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The long COVID-19 symptoms no one’s talking about

Depression, anxiety may linger for some bedridden COVID-19 patients

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An illustration of the omicron variant.

Depression, anxiety may linger for some bedridden COVID-19 patients

Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Bedridden COVID-19 patients are more at risk for anxiety and depression more than one year after their infection, according to a new study.

What they found: A new study, published in The Lancet Public Health, found feelings of depression and anxiety can last about 1.5 years after experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

  • People who tested positive for COVID-19 were more likely to feel depression or trouble sleeping, per NBC News. But those issues lifted about two months later.
  • Those who had such severe COVID-19 that they were bedridden for at least seven days were more likely to experience those mental health issues more than a year later, according to NBC News.

Yes, but: COVID-19 patients who suffer from mild COVID illness are at less risk for those mental health symptoms even compared to the general population, according to USA Today.

What they’re saying: “The good news is that the patient group as a whole is not at higher risk of developing long-term (mental health) symptoms,” Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir, a psychiatric epidemiologist at the University of Iceland, who helped lead the research, told USA Today.

  • “There might be a relief associated with having gone through the infection,” she said.


Method: The research — which included 247,249 people from across Northern European countries Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom — followed patients from February 2020 to August 2021.

Worth noting: The researchers said it’s possible that general long COVID-19 symptoms — such as fatigue, brain fog and physical fatigue — could lead to mental health issues, too.

  • “It may be that this group of patients is still experiencing physical symptoms that fuel the mental health symptoms, or vice versa,” Valdimarsdóttir said.