long covid and mental health

Long-COVID and Mental Health: A Deeper Look Beyond the Physical Struggle

In our recent conversations with case managers, a recurring theme has emerged: the mental health implications of long-COVID. 


This condition, where symptoms linger long after the initial bout with COVID-19, is not just a physical battle. It’s a mental one too. In this blog post, we’ll explore how long-COVID affects mental health, drawing on insights from recent studies, but also speaking to the everyday experiences of those we are navigating this journey alongside. 


The Mental Toll of Long-COVID


Imagine battling an illness and just when you think you’re over it, you realise you’re not. Put that on repeat and that’s the harsh reality for many long-COVID sufferers. It’s no surprise that getting sick and never fully recovering can take a huge toll on one’s mental health. Studies like “Neurological Consequences, Mental Health, Physical Care, and Appropriate Nutrition in Long-COVID-19” (Picone et al., 2022) highlight this struggle. They talk about how long-COVID can lead to problems like memory lapses, mood swings, and even depression. It’s like a shadow that continues to loom, affecting not just the body but also the mind.


It’s easy to dismiss these issues as just feeling a bit down or out of sorts, due to the circumstances. But it’s much more than that. Another study, “Psychological Symptoms in COVID-19 Patients” (Thye et al., 2022), sheds light on this. People recovering from COVID-19 often experience intense anxiety, deep-seated depression, and even PTSD. These are serious conditions that can disrupt lives, relationships, and even the ability to work.


The Brain Fog Phenomenon


A huge part of the mental health toll is a symptom known as “brain fog”. Have you ever had days where your brain just doesn’t seem to cooperate? That’s a glimpse into what some long-COVID patients experience regularly. The study “Neurological and mental health consequences of COVID-19” (Meier et al., 2021) talks about this ‘brain fog’ – a kind of mental fuzziness that according to their study is affecting many long-COVID sufferers, young or old. It’s not just about forgetting where you left your keys; it’s about struggling to concentrate, to remember important information, or to make decisions.


There’s a two-way street between COVID-19 and mental health. If you’ve had mental health challenges in the past, you might be more vulnerable to severe COVID-19. And if you’ve had COVID-19, you might find yourself facing new mental health challenges. It’s a vicious cycle that underscores the need for a holistic approach to treatment and recovery.


A Call for Compassion and Comprehensive Care


Understanding the mental health implications of long-COVID is crucial. It’s not just about getting the right medical treatment; it’s about recognizing and addressing the psychological struggles that come with this condition. 


As we continue to support those affected by long-COVID, let’s remember that this journey is as much about fostering mental health as it is about physical recovery.

Author: Tessa Nielsen 
Clinical Exercise Physiologist and
Content Creator at Specialised Health

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