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 Times, The Washington Post, USA TODAY, CNN, ABC 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.
Please join us in sharing this guidance with your physician colleagues to support patients. Learn more.