CDC warns of long-term mental health effects of COVID-19

Depression, anxiety, and brain fog listed as long-term effects of COVID-19
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 4:32 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 4:33 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The fever, coughing, and congestion brought on by COVID-19 are only the beginning for many patients. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has added more symptoms to the list.

People are experiencing a lot after the initial illness passes.

Sparrow’s Behavioral Health Director Timothy Davis said depression and anxiety is increasing as a long-term effect of the virus.

“We’re going to see depression because people aren’t themselves. They don’t feel as if they’re as functional as they once were or cannot be as functional,” said Davis. “We’re going to see probably an increase in post traumatic stress disorder. Folks that have gone through this and are experiencing this and being fearful of getting it again.”

In addition to depression and anxiety, the CDC said people can also experience a condition known as brain fog.

Davis said people with brain fog lack mental clarity and struggle with memory.

“Things like maybe remembering you always hang your keys on a special hook by the door. You forget that you do that and you lay them somewhere else and then you can’t find them,” said Davis. “Names, dates, things that take higher level skills becomes more complicated and difficult.”

Davis expects more cases of mental illness in the spring and summer as a result of COVID-19.

“Folks become less likely to go outside. Even when the vaccine hits and the virus begins to subside, I think folks are still going to have these fears, these anxieties, these concerns about ‘What if it mutates? I can’t go outside anymore.’ For a small percentage of folks, life will not return to normal because they will be impacted by their mental health,” he said.

People who haven’t tested positive for the virus are also facing mental health issues, which is common in an election year. But, the pandemic is making it even worse.

“When we have something in our midst like this election, like this virus, like the holidays not being able to see our loved ones; and the loss of control or the ability to control our environment, we become anxious because we look for ways to take the control,” he added.

Davis said people can oftentimes question their life’s purpose, which are signs of mental illness. Davis also said it’s important to check in on loved ones if they are exhibiting strange behavior.

“You seem different. You’re a little less vibrant than you usual are or you’ve got a different routine. You’re isolating more or you’re not responding to phone calls or texts like you usually do,” he said. “Even if it’s at nine o’clock every morning, I’m going to have a cup of coffee and look out the window for 10 minutes and watch the squirrels and the birds and whatever else is out there.’ Fine, but make sure you do it routinely.”

Davis said getting back into a routine will help improve mental health.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression or has suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a professional for help.

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