Mental Health and Long COVID: How to Manage the Symptoms

 Mar 14, 2024 | 4 Min Read

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There are so many physical symptoms of long COVID, that sometimes it can be easy to overlook the effect on our mental health. Long COVID can result in a number of mental health issues for patients, and it’s important to know the signs, symptoms and how to manage these for a healthier, happier life post-COVID.

Let’s start off with the definition of long COVID. Long COVID is the name given to the condition of people who suffer adverse effects from a COVID-19 infection long after the virus has left their system. Even people who had little to no symptoms of XOVID-19 while infected can develop issues with long COVID.

Symptoms of long COVID vary greatly person to person, but some common ones include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty focusing or remembering (commonly referred to as ‘brain fog’)
  • Changes in taste or loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing or changes to voice

In addition to physical symptoms, Long COVID can lead to various mental health challenges, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Mood disorders

Dealing with the symptoms of long COVID can be very challenging for patients – they often have to adjust to a completely different routine and way of life to cope.


Patients with long COVID may feel isolated from their community because of their condition, unable to enjoy the hobbies and exercise they used to. They may also be dealing with feelings of trauma from their experience of COVID-19 infection, or feeling unheard or unacknowledged by their medical team. All of these challenges can often result in a person feeling depressed or anxious about their condition.

A 2023 study of a community of long-COVID sufferers in the U.S saw the condition be associated with an increase in a number of mental health issues for patients. These included:

  • 13% rise in depression
  • 28% increase in anxiety
  • 10% increase in suicidal ideation
  • 20% increase in PTSD

Apart from the environmental reasons listed above, there may be a physiological reason for the increase in mental health issues associated with long COVID. There is some evidence that the body’s inflammatory response to infection may contribute to mental health symptoms. Researchers are also exploring whether the virus may affect the gut microbiome, which in turn could affect the mental health of people with long COVID.

As with any mental health problem, your first port of call should be to contact your GP to discuss the options for management and treatment. Discuss with them how long COVID has affected your lifestyle and mental wellbeing, and if you need more support.

At home, it’s important to keep a balanced routine to manage your long COVID symptoms and look after your mental health. Your routine should always include:

  • Adequate sleep
  • Balanced nutrition
  • Plenty of water
  • Physical activity (adjusted to your symptoms)Self-care, including time for hobbies, meditation, personal care, and social connections
For those living abroad, struggling with mental health, know that you’re not alone. Our Expat Assistance Programme is designed to help you adjust to a new environment and navigate the difficult aspects of life abroad. Whether you need financial advice, or confidential emotional support, the EAP is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Find out more.
If you are a member and have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article please contact our helpline today to find assistance.