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Conditions: COVID-19

The term ‘unprecedented times’ in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic encompasses a healthcare crisis on a global scale – an ongoing crisis

Many people have been and continue to be negatively impacted by the pandemic, both physically as well as psychologically.

COVID-19 Stress Syndrome and COVID-19 Post Traumatic Stress - Mental health difficulties are often associated with feeling out of control. As a result of the challenges that were brought by the coronavirus pandemic, many people can relate to those feelings in some way. However, for some, going through the pandemic means that trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has now become a part of their life. This can be for a variety of reasons; you may be a front-line worker who is feeling burnt out and mentally exhausted. You also may have had the personal experience of having had COVID-19. Perhaps, you’ve had to face the illness and/or passing of someone close to you, due to the disease. Going through multiple lockdowns, losing jobs, and being separated from friends and family for long periods can wreak havoc on our mental health.

No matter the reason, anyone who witnesses or goes through the events surrounding a traumatic, life-threatening illness like COVID-19 may find that they struggle with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress afterwards. In general, infectious disease epidemics such as COVID-19 typically result in a particular type of psychological trauma that can occur due to direct experience and suffering from the disease, bearing witness to others who suffer from, struggle against, and die of the disease as well as due to having both the realistic and unrealistic fear of infection. In addition, having COVID-19 can create a uniquely frightening and invasive critical care experience. Treatment in intensive care units, particularly if intubation has taken place, is associated with some of the highest rates of medical PTSD, with 35% of ICU survivors having clinically significant PTSD symptoms two years after their ICU care. Risk of death and prospect of having long-term medical complications in conjunction with the isolation from loved ones and staff, generates a situation where there is high risk of developing PTSD. 

 ‘Long COVID’ - Although in many cases the symptoms of COVID-19 will pass within a few days or weeks, for some people, the effects can last for weeks or months. This condition is called “long COVID” or “post COVID-19 Syndrome. Symptoms of long COVID are highly variable and wide ranging and may fluctuate in intensity and change over time. Everyone’s experience of long COVID is different; some people only have one symptom; others might have many. Long COVID can, however, adversely affect your mental health. Long COVID might reduce the quality of life or ability to work; it is also common to become anxious about how long symptoms might last.

If you are experiencing long COVID, you may suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain or tightness

  • Problems with memory and concentration

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Heart palpitations

  • Dizziness

  • Pins and needles or joint pain

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Tinnitus or earache

  • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite

  • A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste

  • Rashes


Treatment recommendations

Individuals experiencing long COVID frequently rank cognitive function and mental health at the top of their concerns and seeking psychological support can be vital. Many of the same psychological frameworks that help others struggling with cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, and trauma for example appear to work well with long COVID patients. There are many empirically validated treatments that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of people with PTSD, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and many existing psychological and behavioural tools such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), group therapy and peer support, for example, seem to be effective treatments for different aspects of long COVID as well as COVID Stress Syndrome. However, the selected treatment would be individually tailored to your needs following a comprehensive assessment process in our service.

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