It happened: you got the dreaded COVID.
But you got through it, more or less. And yet even as you recover from COVID-19, you seem to have some persistent symptoms that just won’t go away. You might have post-COVID syndrome. And if you do, the problem might affect you psychologically in ways you couldn’t even expect.
What Is Post-COVID Syndrome?
Post-COVID syndrome, also sometimes called “long COVID”, is a set of common symptoms that can affect some COVID-19 patients for months after the disease has technically cleared their system.
According to Dr. Fauci, people with post-COVID syndrome had COVID in their bodies but no longer do. The virus isn’t in there anymore. In other words, they can’t infect other people. They don’t have to quarantine. And yet, many of their symptoms continue.
This period of continued post-COVID symptoms can last for weeks or even months. In some cases, the symptoms last as long as 18 months. They’re calling folks who experience this the “COVID long-haulers.”
Research suggests that approximately 25% of those who’ve had symptomatic COVID-19 will develop post-COVID syndrome. However, numbers as high as 80% have been reported. While likelihood of contracting the condition seems higher among those who required hospital treatment, people who self-treated at home can still develop long COVID.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms?
With so many people potentially getting this condition, it’s important to learn more about it. Let’s start with the symptoms. Essentially, they’re prolonged – and sometimes less acute – versions of regular COVID-19 symptoms.
The three most common symptoms of post-COVID syndrome are:
- Extreme fatigue; a constant feeling of having no energy
- Constantly feeling achiness in the body including joint pain and muscle pain
- Brain fog including difficulty concentrating and problems with memory
Other common symptoms included:
- Chest pain
- Continued loss of taste and/or smell
- Difficulty sleeping
- Hair loss
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble regulating body temperature
What Might Cause Long COVID / Post-COVID Syndrome?
The COVID-19 pandemic came on quickly. It’s changing quickly. And we are still learning new things about it every day. The truth is that we don’t know why some people develop post-COVID syndrome while others do not.
Some theories include:
- Autoimmune condition development (the body starts attacking itself)
- Decreased blood flow to the brain
- Hidden areas of infection in the body
- Low inflammation levels in the brain
- Prolonged inflammatory response
- Underlying health conditions that make it more challenging to heal (diabetes, obesity, heart conditions, etc.)
Psychological Effects of Post-COVID Syndrome
As you can imagine, living with post-COVID syndrome isn’t easy. Trying to function in your daily life when your brain feels so foggy that you can’t focus, you’re always tired but can’t sleep, and everything hurts (even breathing) makes daily life an almost unbearable challenge.
Some of the symptoms mimic depression and can actually lead to clinical depression. Research indicates that some people with post-COVID syndrome may develop myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). This, too, can lead to depression. Essentially, when you have no energy and can’t do the things that you’d like to do, it’s mentally challenging.
Over time, someone with post-COVID syndrome might begin to feel frustrated, irritable, useless, hopeless, burdensome to others, or overwhelmed. It can feel like this is never going to end. This exacerbates the symptoms.
Post-COVID syndrome puts a negative impact on your quality of life. It can affect your work which might affect your feelings of self-worth. It can also challenge your relationships, which might already be strained under the stress of the pandemic. All of this affects your mental health.
In addition to symptoms of depression, you might experience anxiety. PTSD is also common among people with post-COVID syndrome. In particular, if your treatment journey was challenging, you could have psychological trauma related to that.
How Therapy Can Help COVID-19 Survivors
Therapy can help all COVID-19 survivors in a myriad ways. This is true whether or not you yourself have contracted the virus.
We are going through a collective trauma. Our lives have changed dramatically.
We have experienced an increase in:
- Daily levels of high anxiety
- Economic concerns
- Isolation and loneliness
- Pressure from increased household responsibilities
So, anyone might benefit from the support of therapy during the pandemic. However, it’s particularly helpful for the long haulers who experience post-COVID syndrome.
People with prolonged symptoms struggle with a lot of different physical and mental health issues. It’s helpful to talk those through with an unbiased professional who is able to assist you in figuring out how best to cope with your symptoms. Therapy can help you gain a sense of control over your life again. You might even begin to start thinking hopefully about the future, even though that might feel impossible today.
Do you want to discuss therapy for how you’ve been affected by COVID-19? We are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.