As of 2023, the COVID-19 pandemic has seemingly had an impact on every single aspect of our lives. Aside from just the physical health implications, the pandemic has also led to both emotional and psychological effects on individuals. For many, it is safe to say that the pandemic affected our daily lives in ways that we could never have imagined. From social distancing measures to lockdowns, the changes were overwhelming, and many people struggled to cope.
Although the long-term effects of COVID-19 are yet to be fully understood, there is no doubt that the pandemic has had significant emotional and physical impacts on people worldwide. A recent study outlined more than 50 long-term effects of Covid, spanning both mental and physical. For many, this experience was a source of major trauma.
Long-Term Emotional Effects of COVID-19
The pandemic was a significant stressor for people worldwide, with implications far more severe than anyone expected at first. The uncertainty of the situation, coupled with the fear of getting sick or losing loved ones, led to a rise in anxiety, depression, and other serious mental health disorders. The following are some of the long-term emotional effects of COVID-19:
- Anxiety and Depression: The pandemic has led to a significant rise in anxiety and depression among people worldwide. According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to the pandemic. The fear of getting sick or losing loved ones, financial uncertainty, and isolation have contributed to increased levels of anxiety and depression.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The COVID-19 pandemic was a traumatic event for many people, and it has caused a significant spike in PTSD cases. Healthcare workers, in particular, have been massively impacted by the pandemic and are at a higher risk of developing PTSD.
- Social Isolation and Loneliness: The pandemic led to social distancing measures, lockdowns, and restrictions on gatherings, which was difficult for so many. These measures led to increased social isolation and loneliness, which can have long-term emotional effects, especially on the elderly. Social isolation and loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. One study showed that social isolation is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. This demonstrates just how severe of an impact isolation can make.
- Grief and Loss: One of the most difficult emotional difficulties people experienced was the loss and grief experienced worldwide as a result of Covid-19. Many people lost loved ones due to the virus, and the grieving process has been complicated due to the pandemic. The inability to have proper funerals and say goodbye to loved ones can lead to long-term emotional effects.
- Substance Abuse: While this one could be argued for either psychological or physical, substance abuse has become an effect of Covid-19 that many people did not anticipate. With the ongoing isolation, inability to see family, and the sheer amount of fear people experienced daily, the rise in both drug and alcohol use is logical. Many people turned to substances to numb themselves or simply cope. As a result, the death rate from drug overdose rose by 50% during the pandemic.
Long-term Physical Effects of COVID-19
Apart from the emotional and psychological impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to long-term physical effects on individuals. The following are some of the long-term physical effects of COVID-19:
- Fatigue and Weakness: Fatigue and weakness are some of the most common long-term physical effects of COVID-19. Many people who have recovered from the virus report feeling tired and weak, even months after recovering.
- Shortness of Breath and Chest Pain: COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory symptoms, and some people experience shortness of breath and chest pain even after recovering from the virus. These symptoms can persist for months and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
- Brain Fog and Memory Loss: COVID-19 can also affect a person’s cognitive abilities, and some people experience brain fog and memory loss even after recovering from the virus. These symptoms can significantly impact a person’s daily life and ability to work.
- Loss of Smell and Taste: COVID-19 can cause a loss of smell and taste, and some people report that these symptoms persist even after recovering from the virus. The loss of smell and taste can impact a person’s quality of life and ability to enjoy food.
Mitigating the Long-term Emotional and Physical Effects of COVID-19
The long-term emotional and physical effects of COVID-19 can be challenging to manage, but there are ways to mitigate them. The following are some ways to cope with the long-term effects of COVID-19:
- Seek Professional Help: If you are struggling with long-term emotional effects, it is essential to seek professional help as soon as possible. Putting this off is likely to exacerbate the issue depending on the severity of your struggles. A mental health professional can help you manage anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. They can also provide coping strategies to help you deal with grief and loss. Additionally, if you are struggling with a substance abuse disorder related to the pandemic, a counselor or specialized professional can assist you and get you the help you need.
- Stay Connected with Loved Ones: Social isolation and loneliness can significantly impact your mental health. It is essential to stay connected with loved ones, even if you can’t physically be with them. Video calls, phone calls, and text messages can help you stay connected with loved ones and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Engage in Physical Activity: Physical activity can help improve your physical and mental health. Exercise can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve cognitive function, and increase energy levels. If you are experiencing physical symptoms, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting a physical activity program.
- Practice Self-Care: Taking care of yourself is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. Practicing self-care can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Self-care activities can include practicing mindfulness, taking a bath, reading a book, or engaging in a hobby.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant emotional and physical effects on individuals worldwide. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, social isolation, and grief are some of the long-term emotional effects of COVID-19. Fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain, brain fog, memory loss, and loss of smell and taste are some of the long-term physical effects of COVID-19.
Managing the long-term effects of COVID-19 can be challenging, but seeking professional help, staying connected with loved ones, engaging in physical activity, practicing self-care, and seeking medical attention can help mitigate the effects. It is important to remember that everyone’s experience with the pandemic is different, and it is essential to be patient and compassionate with yourself and others during these challenging times.
New Dimensions Can Help!
New Dimensions provides Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Treatment to adolescents and adults who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at www.nddtreatment.com. You can also visit our affiliate site at www.mhthrive.com.