- Experts say there may be a link between severe symptoms after COVID and an increased risk of suicide.
- The suicide of Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor last month highlighted the impact of COVID on mental health.
- Loud tinnitus and constant “brain fog” are some of the symptoms of “long distance” suffering from COVID.
Months of suffering from COVID symptoms over long distances can cause sufferers to develop severe depression and anxiety and even suicidal ideation.
The death of Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor from suicide last month highlighted the dire consequences for COVID’s mental health.
“After battling post-Covid-related symptoms, including severe tinnitus, Kent Taylor took his own life this week,”
“Kent was fighting and fighting hard like the former track champion he was, but the suffering that has intensified in recent days has become unbearable,” the statement continued.
Taylor was among many struggling to cope with the debilitating long-term effects of COVID: tinnitus, constant “brain fog” and memory loss and endless fatigue.
These symptoms – and how people can deal with them in the long run – are still being studied, as the number of COVID cases exceeds the 30 million mark in the United States.
When physical stressors become psychological
Research by Leo Cher, a professor of psychiatry at Icahn Medical School in Mount Sinai, notes that COVID sufferers may continue to become entangled in headaches, dizziness, seizures and other neurological conditions long after COVID is diagnosed.
These physical stressors, Cher warned, can often turn into psychological ones.
“COVID-19 survivors should be seen as at increased risk of suicide,” Cher wrote in an April 2021 document. “Recovered COVID-19 patients must be screened for depression and many coronavirus survivors will need from long-term psychological interventions. ”
For some COVID “long hauliers” the thought of never living 100% again is too great.
Dr. Jill Stoller, a pediatrician from New Jersey, fell ill with COVID in March 2020. She recovered from the infection but never managed to shake off some of the symptoms. Stoller, The New York Times reported in March, is battling brain fog and depression.
The 59-year-old spent months trying to make her way to full recovery, but continued to feel weak and short of breath.
After an intensive study of COVID’s experience of “long hauliers”, Stoller was convinced that he would never fully recover.
“She had this amazing ability to bounce off anything, but this time it was different,” her son Travis Stoler told The Times.
Six months after concluding with COVID, Stoller took his own life on November 29.
“I don’t think any of us realized how hopeless she felt,” her son said. “But she was absolutely convinced that the virus had completely changed her as a person.”
According to a study by Harvard Medical School, while many people recover from COVID in a few weeks or months, they are likely to suffer from chronic damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys and brain. But others, the “long hauliers,” may continue to have symptoms that persist for months, including constant headaches, fatigue, prolonged body aches, and inability to sleep.
The New York Times also reports that long-term carriers did not have to suffer from intense COVID symptoms to experience long-term effects – and some cases actually worsen over time. Long-term symptoms can have a devastating effect on a person’s mental health – turning depression and suicidal ideation into a risk of the COVID recovery process.
Recent studies published in the European Respiratory Journal also note that long-term COVID sufferers are at significant risk of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Dr Swapna Mandal, a consultant in respiratory medicine at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and lead researcher, said: “Our results show very clearly that among those we cared for after COVID, many had some level of poor mental health during their recovery. “
“All healthcare professionals involved in the care of those with long-term COVID should be aware of this and should actively screen patients for symptoms, even those with pre-existing mental health problems.”
In addition, studies in groups of patients who observed patients with COVID 21 days after diagnosis and 60 days after discharge showed that about 50% to 80% of patients continued to feel unwell for up to three months after their initial diagnosis, months after tests no longer detect a live virus in their bodies.
Some medical professionals liken the symptoms of COVID over long distances to those of myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome. A 2015 study by Kings College London on ME / CFS suffers that they are six times more likely to die from suicide than the general population.
A hard battle, just to be believed
Both those with long-distance symptoms and ME / CFS said they struggled not only with symptom management but also with their peers and loved ones believing.
Lauren Nichols contracted COVID in March 2020 and has since dealt with long-lasting symptoms of brain fog and forgetfulness, along with the inability to do more than one thing at a time.
In January, she told the New York Times that she was considering suicide because friends, family and even her doctor did not believe she was still ill.
The desire to trust her is a major problem for Dennis Kelly, a 29-year-old from Massachusetts, who said she was “constantly on the verge of collapse” because no one would believe her. She told Insider that she used to be active and loved going to the gym, but “did not leave her room” for nearly a month due to constant brain fog after she was diagnosed with COVID in January.
“You feel so alone and no one seems to understand why you can’t function,” she said. “I’m not lazy. I’m struggling with something I can’t even fully understand or come to terms with.”
A ray of hope
Christine Mutier, chief medical officer of the American Suicide Prevention Foundation, told Insider that “encouraging” figures on suicide rates were reported in the United States.
“While suicide risk factors such as anxiety, social exclusion, economic stress and suicidal ideation have
increased during a pandemic, it is important for everyone to understand that the risk of suicide is complex and
protective factors also play a powerful role, “Mutier said.
“Although we do not yet have national suicide figures for the entire year 2020, early data from Florida, Massachusetts, Utah and Hawaii show that the overall suicide rate has decreased or not changed in 2020 compared to the previous year. “
Some long-standing COVID carriers have found ways to do it: online groups on social media platforms like Facebook.
Beth Lila-Idrogo, 50, of Texas, told Insider that the COVID support group she joined after her diagnosis in January helped her cope with some of her symptoms – including palpitations, inflammation, changes in hearing and brain fog.
“The group helps because I know I’m not alone. I’ve read the drugs tried by others and things that have helped, and I’m trying them,” she said.
For others, these online groups are a source of emotional support.
“I don’t know anyone personally who struggles with symptoms after COVID, so seeing how many others have the same symptoms helps confirm my own. For example, it actually happens: I don’t overdo it and I don’t imagine,” said Catherine. Nilson, a year old who lives in Pennsylvania and was diagnosed with COVID last December.
Nilsson, a member of COVID’s long-distance women’s support group, added that the group helped link some of the symptoms she experienced, such as excessive thirst, to the after-effects of COVID, something that helped the doctor to come out, warning them to run the necessary tests.
“Fortunately, I have a strong support system and I just take things a day and try to be positive that things will get better,” she said.