What is long-COVID?
Having long-Covid means that a person’s symptoms persist after their COVID infection is resolved, it can also lead to a person experiencing new health conditions after COVID. There are currently two types of long-COVID:
Ongoing symptomatic COVID - when symptoms persist for 4 to 12 weeks
Post-COVID Syndrome - when symptoms carry on for over 12 weeks
Long-COVID is more often found in people who had severe COVID-19, however anyone who has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience long-COVID. Post-COVID conditions may not affect everyone the same way; people will experience different types of medical issues and symptoms over different lengths of times.
Symptoms of long-COVID
People who suffer from long-COVID can experience a wide range of symptoms that can last weeks, months or even years after infection. The following is a list of some of the symptoms some Long-COVID sufferers have experienced:
Respiratory and heart symptoms
Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
Depression or anxiety
Joint or muscle pain
Effect on mental health
Due to the many physical symptoms of long-COVID many people have had to adapt, in some cases this has lead to a lower quality of life.
For example, people suffering with shortness of breath have had to cut back on their day-to-day activities such as sports, leisure and socialising in public spaces. This has led to many people feeling as though they are ’cut off’ from the world around them. This isolation in many has caused repetitive low mood and in some cases depression.
“In a study of 236,379 adults, monitored for six months after receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis, it was shown that 24% had experienced a mood, anxiety or psychotic disorder. This was the first diagnosis of such a disorder in 8.6% of patients” (Priory Group)
It has also been found that people who struggled with mental health problems pre-COVID are more likely to be negatively impacted by the effects of Long-COVID. Meaning, not only has this health issue increased the likelihood of suffering from a mental health problem it has also increased the degree to which people suffer.
These findings have placed further emphasis upon the need for increased mental health support in the UK, as well as the importance of helping sufferers of long-COVID build up mental-resilience in order to help them combat the already long list of symptoms.
Support for long-COVID
Currently, there are no active drug treatments to treat long-COVID and the main focus is placed upon how best to manage the varying symptoms people struggle with.
There is now around 90 long-COVID clinics across England, they are able to provide specialist help and guidance to those who need it. However, the support offered at these clinics can vary from simply assessing symptoms and referring patients to other hospital services to having expert teams specialising in neurology, cardiology and various therapies.
Local government is also aiding in supporting and developing these new services. Some local governments are also working with the voluntary sector to increase access to community support and rehabilitation.
There is a definite need for local representatives to voice their opinions and find new pathways of supporting people suffering from long-COVID and its various physical and mental symptoms.
If you are currently struggling with mental health or physical health issues there are several ways in which you can find support:
NHS long-COVID clinics
NHS 111 service
Samaritans call 116 123
CALM call 0800 58 58 58
Papyrus call 0800 068 41 41