Long COVID and Mental Health
Sunday, November 6th, 2022
by Douglas L. Anderson, PsyD
Every Wednesday the South Dakota Department of Health sends out data updates on COVID infections, hospitalizations, deaths, and so on. If you haven’t given it a look before, you can find it here (https://doh.sd.gov/COVID/Dashboard.aspx). The most recent data indicates that we currently have 81 people in the hospital, we have had 832 known new cases in the past week, and six more South Dakotans have died from this disease.
Some of the “totals” are of particular interest. We have had a total of 3,065 deaths in South Dakota due to COVID. We have had a total of 11,933 people hospitalized. And the total number of known cases in South Dakota to date add up to 265,019.
Based on the population of South Dakota, 29.6% of us are known to have had COVID. And a certain percentage of that number are dealing with what has become known as Long COVID. The World Health Organization recently released a description of Long COVID, and it is worth our awareness.
Post-COVID condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction but also others which generally have an impact on everyday functioning. Symptoms may be new onset, following initial recovery from an acute COVID-19 episode, or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time.
Here’s what we know about Long COVID and Mental Health. The primary symptoms or conditions we see secondary to COVID are anxiety, depression or other mood changes, concentration or other memory problems commonly referred to as “brain fog”, and sleep disturbance.
These conditions could be the result of the virus itself. Obviously we still have much to learn about how this virus works, what role it plays in various post-COVID disorders, and how to treat those post-COVID disorders.
It is also possible that those who have been hospitalized and traumatized by the experiences connected to their hospitalization may develop various mental health conditions as a result.
For some the despair that accompanies long term symptoms like difficulty breathing or unending brain fog can lead to the development of various mental health conditions.
If you have had COVID, and 3 in 10 of us have had COVID in South Dakota, take your mental health pulse and assess yourself for the presence of anxiety, depression, brain fog, and sleep disturbance. If those conditions did not exist prior to having COVID, then you may be dealing with Long COVID, and it might be time to reach out and get some help.
One great way to get help is to find yourself a good psychotherapist who can offer support and help you become more self aware while also developing new coping skills to deal with your anxiety, depression, brain fog, and sleep difficulties.
We have competent and caring therapists in all four of our locations - River Counseling Services in Platte, Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Stronghold Counseling Services in Sioux Falls and in Yankton - who will meet you where you are, offering hope. That is our mission. You may schedule an appointment at the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your computer, smartphone, or in person at any of our clinics. To schedule an appointment, please call 605-334-2696.