Early on in the pandemic, a pervasive myth among patients and some health authorities was the idea that Covid-19 was a short-term illness. Only in recent months has more attention been given to long-haulers. In online support groups like Body Politic and Survivor Corps, long-haulers have produced informal surveys and reports to study their course of illness.
Natalie Lambert, a health researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine, recently surveyed more than 1,500 long-haul patients through the Survivor Corps Facebook page and found a number of common psychological symptoms. She found that anxiety was the eighth most common long-haul symptom, cited by more than 700 respondents. Difficulty concentrating was also high on the list, and more than 400 reported feeling “sadness.”
Covid-19 patients turned to peers on such groups for reassurance that their symptoms were not imagined. “Every single symptom I’ve experienced is echoed by dozens of other people,” said Angela Vázquez, 33, a Covid-19 patient in Los Angeles. “We can’t all be collectively hallucinating the same symptoms.”
The pandemic has caused mental stress for many in its disruption to social, work and exercise routines. But these interruptions are often worse for long-haulers. Some cut themselves off from community — partly because they are sick, but also because they are loath to explain physical and mental problems that they themselves do not understand.