Effects on Mental Health

The uncertainty and impact of the unprecedented health crisis cause feelings of stress and isolation in us all. But, survivors of a COVID-19 infection experience different mental health conditions as a long-term effect of their illness

Why This Happens

We believe that the viral infection that causes COVID-19 affects the brain and nervous system. It may indirectly cause inflammation through the body’s immune responses. We still aren’t sure how this happens. But we notice that more COVID-19 survivors experience mental health or psychiatric conditions at higher rates. These are some of the reported mental health conditions.


The current health crisis caused global feelings of stress and anxiety. We have all experienced anxiety at some point, whether about the ease of COVID-19 transmission, complications from an infection, or the lack of treatment options. However, survivors of COVID-19 report lingering feelings of anxiety, among other mental health conditions, like depression or post-traumatic stress. These are the common symptoms of anxiety disorders.

  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Sleep problems
  • Racing or unwanted thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating


Not only is clinical depression a long-term mental health effect of COVID-19. But, survivors report more severe depressive symptoms. We notice that younger COVID-19 survivors report higher rates of major depressive disorders. However, they aren’t alone in their experiences. Be aware of these symptoms of a depressive disorder.

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Frustration or irritability

Post-Traumatic Stress

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress develop in response to high-stress situations. COVID-19 has proven to fit that description. Survivors report experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress as a long-term effect of their COVID-19 illness. However, they experience symptoms less frequently than those of other mental health conditions. People who experienced warning signs or health complications reported one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Sleep problems, such as insomnia
  • Unwanted thoughts


Some survivors experience psychotic episodes that require hospitalization. We see that in most cases, these episodes happen to people who don’t have a history of psychotic conditions. Their symptoms can manifest during the infectious stage. But that is not always the case. Sometimes, symptoms develop days after an illness. Other times, symptoms develop weeks or even months later. Seek immediate medical attention if you or your loved one experiences one or more of these symptoms.

  • Changes in behavior, such as confusion or agitation
  • Delusions or hallucinations