June 23, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued an advisory to help medical professionals better recognize the mental health symptoms that may come with long COVID.
The nine mental health symptoms highlighted in the advisory are:
● Cognitive impairment, including brain fog
● Obsessive-compulsive disorder
● Sleep disorders
● Posttraumatic stress disorder
● Psychotic disorder
● Start of a substance use disorder
The advisory noted that social factors can contribute to the mental health problems for racial and ethnic minorities; people with limited access to health care; people who already have behavioral health conditions and physical disabilities; and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex.
“Long COVID has a range of burdensome physical symptoms and can take a toll on a person’s mental health. It can be very challenging for a person, whether they are impacted themselves, or they are a caregiver for someone who is affected,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “This advisory helps to raise awareness, especially among primary care practitioners and clinicians who are often the ones treating patients with Long COVID.”
The department says about 10% of people infected with COVID have at least one long COVID symptom. Physical symptoms include dizziness, stomach upset, heart palpitations, issues with sexual desire or capacity, loss of smell or taste, thirst, chronic coughing, chest pain, and abnormal movements.
“We know that people living with long COVID need help today, and providers need help understanding what long COVID is and how to treat it,” Admiral Rachel Levine, MD, assistant secretary for health, said in the statement. “This advisory helps bridge that gap for the behavioral health impacts of long COVID.”