The Mental Health Costs of Battling COVID-19: What to Know

Developing COVID-19 takes a toll on both the physical and psychological wellbeing of a person. According to a psychiatry journal report, The Lancet, researchers found that 18 percent of patients in their study developed anxiety, dementia, or depression at least three months after their diagnosis. Compared to people who hadn’t contracted the virus, patients and COVID survivors are twice as likely to develop mental health conditions.

How Does the COVID-19 Virus Affect the Mind?

Since most people have no framework for living through and managing this many infections, physical distancing has become a go-to measure for containing the virus. People who test positive must isolate, which helps them recover and keeps people around them safe. However, self-isolation contributes to anxiety and depression.

People know they should avoid transmitting the virus, but it does not make the isolation any less challenging. COVID-19 treatment can also be more involved compared to other conditions. The potential uncertainty and severity of the illness, coupled with the isolation needed for treatment, is potentially traumatic. 

What’s more, many COVID-19 patients become “long-haulers,” people with mild symptoms that last for months. Long-haul COVID can cause distress to the patient and their loved ones, preventing them from leading everyday lives. With complications like these, it can be challenging to get back to work or resume everyday tasks.

How Does the COVID-19 Virus Affect the Brain?

Besides psychological effects, a COVID-19 infection might also have neurological consequences. Scientists know that the virus responsible for the novel coronavirus can reach vital organs like the brain. Various reports show patients experiencing delirium, dizziness, confusion, and other cognitive issues. 

Scientists are still trying to understand how the virus interacts with the body’s central nervous system. One theory is that it hurts the brain’s blood supply, which leads to swelling in the brain tissues.

Also, there are strong correlations between a COVID survivor’s mental health and the body’s immune strength. COVID-19 can disturb the circadian rhythm, which could lead to insomnia. Sleep disorders significantly increase the risk for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Why Does COVID-19 Affect the Mind and Brain?

Viruses that attack the central nervous system can impair the brain’s nerves or muscles, affecting physical functions. Also, people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders might be prone to COVID-19 infections. This study explores the possibility that persons with ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression are more likely to contract the virus.

Heightened anxiety produces excess amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone that reduces the body’s immune response. Being highly anxious or depressed may make a person more susceptible to the virus.

Coping When Positive With COVID-19

If you develop COVID-19, prioritize recovery, specifically your physical health. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, maintain a healthy diet, and, if possible, stay physically active. Deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, and muscle relaxation can also help. Recovery can last weeks or even months, so be patient with yourself and trust your body’s ability to heal.

Conclusion

Doctors are still learning about COVID’s long-term effects, and one of the things they are studying is the impact of the disease on the brain and the mind. People diagnosed with COVID-19 might be more likely to develop anxiety or mood disorders. Preliminary results show that psychological health boosts the body’s capacity to fight the infection. Mental resilience, then, is necessary for staying strong against the virus.

Get support for your post-COVID recovery through Therapy24x7. Efrat Gotlib’s therapists’ team provides wellbeing sessions and therapy centered on COVID recovery, perfect for people who want to get their life back on track. Schedule a consultation today to learn more!

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