AAPM&R Long COVID Mental Health Guidance Statement Released

Members & Publications

November 8, 2023

Today, we announced new guidance for diagnosing and treating common mental health symptoms of Long COVID. The statement was developed by AAPM&R's PASC Collaborative, our multidisciplinary group of physicians, clinicians and patient advocates convened to address the pressing need for guidance in caring for patients with Long COVID.
Many patients have described being questioned about their Long COVID-related symptoms in a way that feels dismissive of their experience and/or mistakenly attributed to an underlying mental health condition. Long COVID-related mental health symptoms include depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD. The COVID-19 pandemic caused or exacerbated these symptoms in some people, but these same conditions can also be a physiological symptom of Long COVID.

“There really is some nuance in looking at the mental health symptoms of Long COVID because Long COVID symptoms that are related to mental health can also exacerbate or mimic other symptoms of Long COVID, such as fatigue, brain fog, and sleep disturbances,” said Abby Cheng, MD, FAAPMR, author of the guidance.
Underserved, underinsured and underrepresented patients tend to have a higher prevalence of many medical conditions, including mental health conditions before COVID and mental health symptoms related to Long COVID.

Traditional nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic mental health treatments, such as SSRIs, should be considered in tandem for treating mental health symptoms of Long COVID. Medication should be prescribed after considering comorbidities and other Long COVID symptoms. Some Long COVID symptoms may be worsened by the common side effects of some SSRI medications; however, the side effects could benefit other symptoms of Long COVID.

Supporting today's release of the mental health guidance statement, we organized an exciting and successful media roundtable with 15+ reporters from national news outlets, such as The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA TODAYCNNABC and more. Thank you to Steven Flanagan, MD, FAAPMR, AAPM&R President, and co-authors of the mental health guidance statement Abby Cheng, MD, FAAPMR and Monica Verduzco–Gutierrez, MD, FAAPMR, who discussed the guidance in detail with reporters.

These statements are part of a multidisciplinary collaborative consensus guidance series for the most predominant Long COVID symptoms, published in AAPM&R's PM&R Journal. The first consensus guidance on fatigue was released in August 2021, followed by guidance on breathing discomfort and cognitive symptoms in December 2021, cardiovascular complications in June 2022, pediatrics and autonomic dysfunction in September 2022 and neurological symptoms in May 2023.

Please join us in sharing this guidance with your physician colleagues to support patients. Learn more.


Legislation Introduced to Alleviate Impact of Conversion Factor Cut for 2021

Nov 09, 2020

Last month, two bills were introduced in the House proposing solutions to the estimated 10.6% Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor cut expected to go into effect January 1, 2021.  The bills offer some relief to the cut, but do not reflect a comprehensive or long-term solution.  AAPM&R has therefore chosen to remain neutral regarding these bills. 

Your Academy continues to advocate for a permanent solution to the conversion factor cut while maintaining the important payment increases to office and outpatient evaluation and management services.