The Impact on a Survivor’s Mental Health

CEO, Co-founder and Partner
Cheryl has been working in the private Mental Health and Addiction treatment world for 30 years, as a clinician, clinical director, program founder, program administrator, and facility decorator!

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The Impact on a Survivor’s Mental Health

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The COVID-19 pandemic was unexpected, and for many, the effects have been significant. Whether the pandemic has affected you financially, physically, mentally, socially, or all of the above, research shows the implications of COVID-19 on mental health and substance abuse.

Data shows that approximately four out of ten adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety or depression after COVID or during the pandemic — up from one in ten adults who reported symptoms from January to June 2019. There are many contributing factors, ranging from loss of income to the stress and fear of becoming ill. But what about those who did get sick?

What are the mental health implications of COVID-19 among survivors of the virus?

A study out of Oxford found that one in three people who survive COVID are diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months of being infected.

If you or your loved one got COVID-19 and are now dealing with lingering mental (and potentially physical) health symptoms, help is available. Here is what you need to know.

Depression After COVID

As data has continued to compile, researchers have come to believe that post-pandemic depression or “COVID sadness” is one of the most common effects of getting and surviving the virus. Of course, the severity of one’s depression is a more complex topic, as many variables play a role.

One 2022 study collected data from seventy COVID-19 survivors. Based on a comprehensive patient health questionnaire, it was found that only eight (11.4%) of participants did not suffer from depression-related symptoms. Seventeen (24.3%) experienced minimal depression, twenty-seven (38.6%) had mild depression, and eighteen (25.7%) had moderate to severe depression after COVID.

Each survivor has their own story. Your experience has a lot to do with how well you cope. For example, if you infected a loved one who then experienced complications, you may be feeling extreme guilt, resulting in depression after COVID. You may also have had a pre-existing mood disorder that has been amplified following your recovery.

Related: COVID-19 and Depression: How You Can Seek Help

Anxiety After COVID

Several studies have shown that anxiety is being commonly diagnosed after surviving COVID-19. This 2021 study found that among 3,633 adult participants, 23% had previously contracted COVID-19. Of those individuals, 40% had anxiety symptoms, and 38% experienced anxiety and depression symptoms. It was concluded that COVID-19 survivors are three times more likely to report anxiety than those without a history of the disease.

Again, anxiety after COVID is a very personal experience. Your anxiety may stem from one of many variables related to your COVID experience. Anxiety (and depression) symptoms are linked to “long COVID” — an umbrella term used to cover a range of ailments people experience after being infected. Social anxiety after COVID is also very common — so is isolation anxiety.

It’s still too early to know how COVID-19 affects survivors long-term. However, several brain studies are providing clues. For example, COVID-19 infiltration of the brain stem may affect components that manufacture certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. If these components are damaged, you may experience emotional and cognitive symptoms, including severe anxiety after COVID and an inability to concentrate.

Addiction After COVID

During the pandemic, data shows a significant increase in substance abuse. The misuse of alcohol and opioids is on the rise. In addition, those with substance use disorders (SUD) are more likely to get COVID-19. These individuals also face a higher risk of experiencing worse COVID-19 outcomes, including a higher risk of hospitalization and mortality.

A recent study examined the health records of nearly 154,000 former COVID patients. It was found that those who’d had COVID were 34% more likely to develop opioid use behaviors than those who had not had the disease. COVID survivors are also 20% more likely to develop other substance abuse problems, including alcoholism.

It is not uncommon for COVID survivors to suffer from a mental health condition and substance abuse, requiring dual diagnosis treatment. When seeking treatment, it’s imperative to work with a treatment facility that offers individualized holistic treatment. Your situation is unique and requires a personalized, comprehensive approach.

Insomnia Post-COVID

Sleep is imperative to positive health. Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological well-being, while mental health problems increase your risk of insomnia. Data shows that sleep issues may significantly burden your life as a recovered COVID patient.

One of the most common symptoms COVID-19 survivors experience is insomnia. In a 2020 study, it was found that among 402 adult survivors, a significant portion self-rated in the psychopathological range — 28% for PTSD, 31% for post-pandemic depression, 42% for anxiety, 20% for OC symptoms, and 40% for insomnia post COVID.

Based on the same study for insomnia post-COVID, it was found that of the nearly 153,000 individuals who survived COVID, 2.3% were newly diagnosed with a sleep disorder within a year. This figure represents a 41% increase compared to those who never contracted COVID-19. Many of these individuals are now relying on various medications to sleep.

Readjusting to Life After COVID

Life after COVID looks different for everyone.

If you are having a hard time after your recent COVID diagnosis or have already recovered, and are experiencing lingering mental health issues, know that you’re not alone.

At Corner Canyon Health Centers, we understand that you have been through a unique experience and post-pandemic depression or other mental health conditions require personalized support. You may be experiencing one or all of the conditions discussed above, which requires a comprehensive, ongoing treatment plan.

Using a holistic framework, we address all aspects of your well-being — body, mind, and spirit. We treat a wide range of mental health and substance abuse conditions. We also work with specific groups to provide a more targeted intervention and treatment plan, including those with autism and those in the LGBTQI+ community.

If you or your loved one need support with depression after COVID, or any other post-pandemic mental health concerns, we’re here. Discover more about what we treat at our mental health and addiction treatment center in Utah. We also welcome you to contact us with any questions or concerns.

CEO, Co-founder and Partner
Cheryl has been working in the private Mental Health and Addiction treatment world for 30 years, as a clinician, clinical director, program founder, program administrator, and facility decorator!

Liz Lund, MPA

Liz is originally from lush green Washington State. She is a life enthusiast and a huge fan of people. Liz has always loved learning why people are the way they are. She moved to UT in 2013 and completed her bachelors degree in Psychology in 2016. After college Liz worked at a residential treatment center and found that she was not only passionate about people, but also administration. Liz is recently finished her MPA in April 2022. Liz loves serving people and is excited and looking forward to learning about; and from our clients here at Corner Canyon.
When Liz is not busy working she love being outdoors, eating ice cream, taking naps, and spending time with her precious baby girl and sweet husband.