COVID depression is a new and developing mental health condition. Individuals who contract COVID-19 have been experiencing long-term symptoms that they refer to as "brain fog" or "foggy mind."
The global prevalence of depression increased by 25% during the first year of the COVID pandemic. This can be attributed both to the changes in lifestyle brought about by the pandemic and by the disease itself.
A startling 50% of American adults reported symptoms of major depressive disorder after a coronavirus infection. The risk of developing depression symptoms and other mental health disorders remains above average for individuals up to a year after they have recovered from COVID-19.
People with COVID depression often experience difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, and feelings of fatigue and depression. At our clinic, we are seeing patients who have had memory challenges, personality changes and sleep issues that have lingered for months or even years since their initial COVID infection. There is still much to learn about COVID depression, but researchers are working hard to understand it and treat it.
Scientists are working hard to understand how the coronavirus impacts the brain. Some studies have shown that the immune system's response, going into overdrive when one gets sick, can result in inflammation throughout the body, including the brain.
There is also some evidence that endothelial cells, which line the blood vessels in one’s brain, become disturbed when one has COVID-19. This may allow harmful substances, which the endothelial cells are usually able to protect against, to impact mental functioning.
COVID could also impact the microbes and bacteria in the gut, which can affect neurotransmitters that impact mood.
There is still much research that needs to be done to understand why people get depression during and after a COVID infection. One thing that is clear though, is that there is a link between an increased risk of depression and a COVID diagnosis.
We have many patients with post covid depression, however, no 2 patients are alike when it comes to symptoms. Here are a few that may be an indication that you have post covid depression:
- A lack of interest in hobbies, social activities, or sex
- Difficulty in doing things that used to be easy (such as getting out of bed or getting dressed)
- Increased irritability, frustration, and outbursts, even over minor annoyances
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Sleep challenges, including insomnia or oversleeping
- Exhaustion or lack of energy
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Mental health medications that were effective before suddenly stop working after a bout of Covid
Psychological not physical factors like depression and anxiety may require psychiatric support to restore a person's quality of life. You are not imagining these things happening to you and you are not alone. Axis Integrated Mental Health is here to help you manage mood and depression and other psychological symptoms after Covid with patience and compassion.
Treating COVID depression follows a similar process to treating major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression. Standard treatment includes the following options.
Integrative psychiatry is a holistic way of treating mental health conditions, such as COVID depression. Integrative psychiatry focuses on both a mind and body approach to wellness, treating them as connected but distinct systems that impact each other.
One of the most traditional ways to treat depression is through medication. Antidepressants are usually the first line of treatment for depression, although other types of medications, such as mood stabilizers and antipsychotics, may be considered depending on your symptoms and unique needs.
Talk therapy is another important intervention for treating COVID depression. Talk therapy is often carried out in conjunction with other treatment options. Talk therapy can help you tackle your thought patterns and beliefs and learn how to change them for a more positive outcome.
For individuals who have not experienced relief from their COVID depression through traditional treatment options, there are alternative therapies they can try alone or in combination with other treatment options.
- Ketamine infusions can be used to help provide immediate depression relief and assist with remapping your brain and allowing it to heal.
- Spravato nasal spray can be used to provide quick relief from depression symptoms if you are also diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can be used to help create new pathways in your brain and promote healing.
More information about treatment costs can be found under patient resources.
If you are a COVID depression long hauler who wants to recover from the mental health effects of COVID, we can help. At Axis Integrated Mental Health, we have experience with treating depression for long hauler cases and can help you explore various options for treating your COVID depression.
Contact Axis Integrated Mental Health at (720) 400-7025 or schedule an appointment with us today to take charge of your mental health and to heal.