symptoms of post-covid depression

15 Symptoms of Post-COVID Depression You should Know.

Writen By: Faiza Saifur
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: July 25, 2023

COVID-19 has left millions of people in the United States with long-lasting symptoms, known as “long COVID.” These symptoms of Post-COVID Depression  include brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle and joint pain, sleep issues, heart palpitations, and mood changes. These symptoms can disrupt daily life, leading to adjustments in work hours and impacting health insurance coverage. 

Additionally, the combination of long COVID, isolation, and changes in routine can contribute to mental health problems, including Depression. Studies show that a significant number of individuals who had COVID-19 developed depression within six months of their infection. It’s important to address both the physical and mental health challenges posed by long COVID. 

Table of Contents

Detailed Analysis of Symptoms Post-COVID Depression.

1. Persistent Sadness and Low Mood:

One of the hallmark symptoms of Post-COVID Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood. Individuals may experience an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, emptiness, or unhappiness that persists for most of the day, nearly every day. This emotional state is often unrelated to any specific trigger or event.

2. Loss of Interest and Pleasure:

A significant symptom of Post-COVID Depression is the loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. Individuals with post-COVID depression may no longer find satisfaction in hobbies, social interactions, or other once-pleasurable experiences. They may feel detached from their usual interests and may struggle to engage in activities they used to enjoy.

3. Fatigue and Lack of Energy:

Fatigue and a persistent lack of energy are common physical symptoms experienced by individuals with Post-COVID Depression. They may feel exhausted even after minimal physical or mental exertion. This fatigue can be weakening and may lead to difficulties in performing daily activities or maintaining productivity.

4. Sleep Disturbances:

Sleep disturbances are frequently reported in individuals with Post-COVID Depression. They may experience difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or having restful sleep. Some individuals may also experience excessive sleepiness, leading to daytime napping and disrupted sleep-wake cycles.

5. Changes in Appetite and Weight:

Post-COVID Depression can display significant changes in appetite and weight. Some individuals may experience a loss of appetite, resulting in unintentional weight loss. Conversely, others may develop increased cravings and overeating, leading to weight gain. These changes in appetite and weight can further contribute to distress and a negative self-perception.

6. Mental Impairments:

Post-COVID Depression can affect mental functions, and individuals with post-COVID depression may experience difficulties with concentration, attention, and memory. They may have trouble focusing on tasks, making decisions, or memorizing information. These mental impairments can impact daily functioning, work performance, and overall productivity.

7. Feelings of Guilt or Worthlessness:

Individuals with Post-COVID Depression may experience excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness, even when there is no logical basis for such emotions. They may have a distorted self-perception, feeling like a burden to others or believing they have failed in various aspects of life. These negative self-evaluations can eternalize depressive symptoms.

8. Suicidal Thoughts or Imaginations:

In severe cases of Post-COVID Depression, individuals may experience suicidal thoughts or imagination. They may consider or express a desire to die, feeling that life is no longer worth living. It is crucial to take any mention or indication of suicidal thoughts seriously and seek immediate professional help.

9. Irritability and Agitation:

Individuals with Post-COVID Depression may experience increased irritability, restlessness, or a shorter temper than usual. They may find themselves becoming easily frustrated or agitated, even in situations that would not typically trigger such reactions.

10. Decreased Libido and Sexual Interest:

Depression can have a significant impact on one’s sexual desire and interest. Individuals with Post-COVID Depression may experience a decrease in libido, leading to a reduced interest in sexual activities. This can weaken intimate relationships and contribute to feelings of distress.

11. Physical Aches and Pains:

Depression can manifest as physical symptoms, including unexplained aches, pains, and discomfort. Individuals with Post-COVID Depression may report headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, or digestive issues without any apparent underlying medical cause. These physical symptoms may coexist with psychological distress.

12. Anxiety and Worry:

Anxiety often co-occurs with depression, and individuals with Post-COVID Depression may experience heightened levels of worry, unease, or excessive concern about various aspects of life. They may be distracted with negative thoughts, anticipating the worst consequences, or experiencing anxiety attacks.

13. Social Withdrawal and Isolation:

Depression can lead to social withdrawal and a desire to isolate oneself from others. Individuals with Post-COVID Depression may avoid social interactions, feel uncomfortable in social settings, or prefer to spend most of their time alone. This isolation can further worsen feelings of loneliness and contribute to a sense of disconnection from others.

14. Poor Self-Image and Body Dissatisfaction:

Depression can significantly impact self-esteem and body image. Individuals with Post-COVID Depression may develop negative perceptions of themselves, feeling inadequate, unattractive, or self-conscious about their physical appearance. These feelings can contribute to a negative cycle of self-criticism and further eternalize depressive symptoms.

15. Reduced Motivation and Productivity:

A common symptom of depression is a significant decrease in motivation and productivity. Individuals with Post-COVID Depression may struggle to initiate or complete tasks, whether at work, school, or home. They may feel a lack of drive or purpose, leading to a decline in overall functioning and achievement.

It is important to remember that these symptoms can vary in intensity and duration among individuals. Additionally, not everyone experiencing Post-COVID Depression will have all of these symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, seeking professional help from a healthcare provider or mental health specialist is recommended for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

How Can I Manage Post-COVID Depression? 

Dealing with Post-COVID Depression requires a proactive approach, whether you have been diagnosed with COVID or are struggling with the loss of normality. Here are some strategies to help you cope:

Establish New Routines:

Maintaining a sense of structure can be challenging when the future feels uncertain. Identify aspects of your life that are not dependent on COVID and establish new routines around them. Consider incorporating virtual workouts, working from home, or pursuing a new hobby. Aim to wake up and go to bed at consistent times each day and make an effort to get dressed even if you have no plans to leave the house.

Foster Social Connections:

Despite physical limitations, make an effort to connect with loved ones. Reach out to friends and family through phone calls, video chats, or social media. Explore new ways to bond, such as reading a book together, starting a shared favorite series, or participating in online activities like virtual yoga classes.

Address Physical Symptoms:

COVID, anxiety, and depression can contribute to physical exhaustion. Prioritize your physical well-being by ensuring you get enough sleep, engage in regular physical activity, eat nutritious meals, and stay hydrated. Both illness and depression can affect your ability to take care of yourself, so it’s essential to be mindful of your physical health.

Maintain Precautions:

As the pandemic continues, it may be tempting to let go of the precautions that were initially followed. However, maintaining practices like social distancing, wearing masks, and practicing proper hygiene can help you regain a sense of control over your well-being. Neglecting these habits may not only compromise your health but also leave you feeling like you’re giving up on protecting yourself.

By implementing these coping strategies, you can actively manage post-COVID depression and work towards regaining a sense of normalcy and well-being in your life. Remember to be patient with yourself and seek professional help if needed.

Top 11 Books to Read if you have Symptoms of Post-COVID Depression. 

“The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points” by Alice Boyes.

“The Stress-Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity” by Melanie Greenberg. 

“Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks” by Barry McDonagh

“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. 

“The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” by Ryan Holiday

“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” by Sheryl Sandbe

“The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right.

“Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions” by Johann Hari.

“The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want” by Sonja Lyubomirskyrg and Adam Grant.

“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk.

“The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

What are common symptoms of post-COVID-19 conditions (long COVID) according to the World Health Organization?

Symptoms differ between people, and between adults and children.  Overall, the most common symptoms of post-COVID-19 condition include:

Fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, memory, concentration or sleep problems, persistent cough, chest pain, trouble speaking, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, depression or anxiety, fever.

People with post-COVID-19 conditions, also known as long COVID, may have difficulty functioning in everyday life. Their condition may affect their ability to perform daily activities such as work or household chores.

Causes of Post-COVID Depression. 

Here are some potential causes:

Physical health challenges: 

COVID-19 can have significant physical impacts on the body, and some individuals may experience staying symptoms even after recovering from the acute illness. These ongoing health issues, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, or organ damage, can contribute to feelings of frustration, helplessness, and depression.

Psychological trauma: 

The experience of having COVID-19 can be traumatic, especially for those who faced severe illness, hospitalization, or the loss of loved ones. The fear, isolation, and uncertainty surrounding the disease can leave a lasting impact on mental well-being, potentially leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Social isolation and loneliness: 

COVID-19 has resulted in widespread social distancing measures and lockdowns, leading to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness. Prolonged periods of limited social interaction can have detrimental effects on mental health, including depression and anxiety.

Financial strain: 

The pandemic has caused economic disruptions, including job losses, business closures, and financial instability for many individuals. Financial strain and the resulting stress can significantly impact mental health and contribute to the development of depression.

Disrupted daily routines: 

The pandemic has disrupted regular routines and activities, such as work, school, and socializing. This disruption can lead to a sense of purposelessness, loss of structure, and a lack of fulfillment, which can contribute to feelings of depression.

Pre-existing mental health conditions:

Individuals who had pre-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, may be more susceptible to developing Post-COVID Depression. The added stressors and challenges of the pandemic can exacerbate these conditions or trigger a relapse.

Biological factors: 

COVID-19 can affect the central nervous system and potentially lead to inflammation or neurochemical imbalances that can kick into the development of depression. Additionally, some individuals may have a genetic inclination to depression, which can be triggered or worsened by the physical and psychological stress of the illness.

Treatment of Post-COVID Depression. 

Treatment options for Post-COVID Depression include:

  • Therapy: Talk to a mental health professional to address negative thoughts and develop coping strategies.
  • Medications: Antidepressant medications may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms.
  • Physical exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, even light exercise or walking, can improve mood.
  • Social support: Seeking support from friends, family, or support groups can provide comfort and a sense of belonging.
  • Self-care: Prioritizing activities like sleep, healthy eating, relaxation techniques, and engaging in enjoyable hobbies.
  • Follow medical advice: Adhering to recommendations for managing ongoing physical health issues related to COVID-19.

FAQs

How long does Post-COVID Depression typically last?

The duration of post-COVID depression can vary widely among individuals. For some, the symptoms may subside within a few weeks or months, while others may experience a more prolonged course. It is recommended to seek professional help if symptoms persist for an extended period or significantly impact daily functioning.

Are the symptoms of Post-COVID Depression different from general depression?

The symptoms of post-COVID depression are similar to those of general depression. However, individuals with post-COVID depression may also experience specific stressors related to the COVID-19 experience, such as fear of reinfection, lingering physical symptoms, or grief and loss related to the illness.

Can Post-COVID Depression occur even in people who had mild COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes, post-COVID depression can occur in individuals who had mild COVID-19 symptoms. The development of depression after COVID-19 is not solely determined by the severity of the illness but can be influenced by various factors, including personal vulnerability, pre-existing mental health conditions, and the overall impact of the pandemic on an individual’s life.

What are the risk factors for developing Post-COVID Depression?

Risk factors for developing post-COVID depression can include a history of mental health conditions, previous experience with depression, prolonged illness, severe COVID-19 symptoms, personal or financial stressors, social isolation, lack of support, and limited access to healthcare services.

What are the emotional Symptoms of Post-COVID Depression?

Post-COVID depression often manifests through various emotional symptoms. Studies have reported heightened feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and persistent low mood among individuals recovering from COVID-19. Many individuals also experience a loss of interest or pleasure in activities they once enjoyed, a condition known as anhedonia. Additionally, heightened anxiety and irritability are commonly observed in those affected, leading to increased stress levels and difficulty in managing daily tasks.

What are the physical Symptoms of Post-COVID Depression?

While primarily a mental health condition, post-COVID depression can also manifest through physical symptoms. Fatigue and lack of energy are commonly reported, often persisting long after the individual has recovered from the acute phase of the virus. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleepiness, are also prevalent, further exacerbating the individual’s overall well-being.

What are the social and Behavioral Symptoms of Post-COVID Depression?

Post-COVID depression can significantly impact an individual’s social and behavioral patterns. Many individuals may withdraw from social interactions, experiencing a sense of isolation and disconnection from others. Loss of appetite or changes in eating patterns, along with fluctuations in weight, may also be observed. Furthermore, individuals may engage in avoidant behaviors, such as neglecting personal hygiene or avoiding once-pleasurable activities

What are Cognitive Symptoms cognitive symptoms of Post-COVID Depression?

Cognitive symptoms can also be prevalent in post-COVID depression. Individuals may experience difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making, often referred to as “brain fog.” This cognitive impairment can impact one’s ability to perform tasks efficiently, leading to decreased productivity and frustration.

Are there any specific groups more susceptible to Post-COVID Depression?

Post-COVID depression can affect individuals of all age groups, including children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. However, certain age groups, such as older adults and individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions, may be more vulnerable to developing depression after COVID-19.

How does Post-COVID Depression impact daily life and functioning?

Post-COVID depression can significantly impact daily life and functioning. It may lead to difficulties in maintaining relationships, performing work or school-related tasks, engaging in enjoyable activities, and taking care of personal responsibilities. Physical symptoms, such as fatigue and sleep disturbances, can further exacerbate these challenges.

What are some strategies or treatments for managing Post-COVID Depression?

Strategies and treatments for managing post-COVID depression may include psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy), medications (such as antidepressants), lifestyle modifications (including regular exercise, healthy eating, and sleep hygiene), social support, stress management techniques, and self-care activities.

Is Post-COVID Depression treatable with therapy and medication?

Yes, post-COVID depression is treatable with therapy and medication. Psychotherapy can help individuals develop coping skills, address negative thought patterns, and process the emotional impact of the illness. Medications, such as antidepressants, may be prescribed by healthcare professionals to alleviate symptoms and support recovery.

Can Post-COVID Depression resolve on its own without intervention?

While some individuals may experience a spontaneous resolution of post-COVID depression symptoms over time, it is advisable to seek professional help if symptoms persist or significantly interfere with daily life. Professional intervention can provide effective strategies and support for a faster and more sustained recovery.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help alleviate Post-COVID Depression symptoms?

Yes, certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate post-COVID depression symptoms. These may include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, engaging in regular physical exercise, practicing stress management techniques (such as mindfulness or relaxation exercises), establishing a healthy routine, and seeking social support from friends, family, or support groups.

What should I do if I suspect I have Post-COVID Depression?

If you suspect you have post-COVID depression, it is important to reach out to a healthcare professional, such as a primary care doctor or mental health specialist. They can evaluate your symptoms, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your individual needs.

Can Post-COVID Depression recur after it has resolved?

While there is a possibility of post-COVID depression recurring, it is not inevitable for everyone. Recovery from depression varies from person to person. Taking proactive steps to manage stress, maintaining good mental health habits, and seeking appropriate support when needed can help reduce the risk of recurrence.

Conclusion.

Managing post-COVID depression requires a proactive approach. Strategies include establishing new routines, fostering social connections, addressing physical symptoms, and maintaining precautions. Seeking professional help is recommended for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

In conclusion, understanding the symptoms of post-COVID depression is crucial for promoting recovery and well-being. By implementing coping strategies and seeking professional help, individuals can actively manage their mental health and work towards recovering a sense of normality in their lives.