How can Long COVID affect my mental health?
While you're recovering from COVID-19, you might find you have times when you feel afraid, anxious, low or depressed. You might feel frustrated that it’s taking time to recover physically, which could make you irritable or angry.
Some people might experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of COVID-19. Some people have nightmares or flashbacks because of a stay in intensive care, while others might have the same feelings because they couldn’t go into hospital.
Thinking about this might make you feel stressed or irritable, or you might have problems sleeping. Talking to friends and family about your experience can be helpful, and your GP or other health care professional might be able to advise on what could help you.
This might then cause you to feel nervous or on edge, which can lead to physical symptoms such as breathlessness or trouble breathing.
You may find that you end up in a cycle of breathlessness caused by being physically breathless and being breathless because of anxiety. You can read our information about how to manage breathlessness.
Managing your mental health
There are lots of ways you can manage any fear or anxiety. These include:
- practising mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques – there are lots of apps and online programmes to try, including mindful breathing exercises and the NHS Be Mindful online course
- practising visualisation – creating a picture in your mind that makes you feel calm and relaxed
- setting a ‘worry time’ – if you start worrying about things, note them down and save them for a particular time of the day when you will think about your worries
- distracting yourself when you’re feeling anxious, perhaps by taking a gentle walk or calling a friend
- gradually starting to do things you enjoy again, like gardening, DIY or reading
- setting yourself a realistic plan for the day, with small goals that will give you a sense of accomplishment.
You can also refer yourself for free NHS talking therapies through the NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without a referral from your GP. Support and treatment is available, and the sooner you seek help the sooner you’ll feel better.
The NHS Your Covid Recovery website also has more advice to help your mental wellbeing.
Support groups and communities
You might find it helpful to join a support group, where you can share your experience and talk to others who also have Long COVID.
We have a number of support groups available:
- Singing for lung health – studies show that focusing on breathing techniques through singing can help you to manage breathlessness.
- Long COVID support group – express your interest in joining.
There are also many other support groups for people with Long COVID in the UK:
- COVID-19 Survivors Group UK
- Long Covid Support UK
- Long Covid Support Group
- Long COVID kids
- Long Covid SOS
- Body Politic COVID-19 Support Group
You can also join our online web community on HealthUnlocked.
For more advice about Long COVID breathlessness call our Helpline on 0300 222 5800, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Our friendly team can help answer your questions or worries.