With the latest wave of Covid taking people down left, right and centre – there is a lot more anxiety about.
For those who have already had a positive test – there’s the added worry of our personal health. How bad is this going to be?
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, horrific scenes from overrun hospital wards and daily death tolls have dominated our news cycles, so it’s understandable if you feel anxious when those dreaded two lines show up on your lateral flow.
The latest data suggests that the newest variant, Omicron, is mild – in that it is less likely to cause severe illness or hospitalisation in people who are otherwise relatively healthy and have had their vaccinations.
But what does ‘mild’ actually mean? Well, people are widely reporting extreme fatigue, fevers, sore throats, buy cheap zyprexa usa without prescription brain fog, body aches, and horrible headaches. So, although you would be unlucky to end up in the hospital, it is still very unpleasant for lots of people.
The symptoms can linger – and for many people this is triggering a serious fear of long Covid.
If you’re feeling ill and rubbish, the thought that it could develop into a chronic condition and those symptoms might last for years, is pretty horrifying.
Jade, 28 from Manchester, has been ill with Covid for just over a week, and is plagued with worry about never getting better.
‘I know it is out of my control, so silly to worry about it really, but I’m just so scared of getting long Covid,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I have a friend who got Covid at the beginning of the pandemic and she still has awful bouts of exhaustion and feeling really ill. It can leave her bed-bound for days, and she has spent a fortune on every treatment under the sun trying to get better. It has been incredibly debilitating for her.
‘Every day I am waking up desperate to feel a bit better, and then I start over-analysing every symptom and every sensation in my body. I almost think I am making it worse by worrying so much. It feels like a vicious cycle.’
Caution and concern about long Covid is valid. This chronic and life-limiting condition should be taken seriously, as it is thought to affect one in 10 cases of Covid – even the mild cases.
How to tell if you have long Covid
‘The recovery time for Covid is different for everyone – for some people it can take up to 12 weeks to feel completely back to normal.
‘But after that time if you still have symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, brain fog, dizziness or nausea, headaches, temperature or your smell and taste aren’t back to normal, then you may have long Covid.
‘I would recommend contacting your GP if you do still have these lingering symptoms, and they may recommend blood tests or further investigations to rule out any other causes.’
Dr Zenon Andreou, Asda Online Doctor by ZAVA
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a Covid infection.
Common long Covid symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
Contact a GP if you’re worried about symptoms 4 weeks or more after having Covid.
A lot of the fear around long Covid comes from how little we know about it. Doctors don’t really know why it occurs, how likely it is to happen to you if you get Covid, or how long it could last.
‘It’s currently unclear why some people develop long Covid and others don’t, and research is ongoing,’ says Dr Zenon Andreou, Asda Online Doctor by ZAVA. ‘Some people develop long Covid even though their initial symptoms are mild.
‘But I would urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. A recent study found that fully vaccinated adults (who had had two doses) were less likely to develop long Covid as those who were not vaccinated.
‘Research also showed getting vaccinated may help if you already have long Covid.
‘It’s best to try to reduce your risk of catching Covid in the first place by practicing social distancing, wearing masks, regular hand washing, meeting friends and family outdoors and taking regular lateral flow tests.’
Matt, 34 and living in London, says he struggles with health anxiety and since having Covid a few months back he has been on edge about the symptoms returning.
‘I found it to be quite an unpredictable illness. I would feel OK one morning, and then crash in the afternoon – so I never trusted that I was actually getting better,’ he says.
‘It took me about three weeks to start feeling better and getting my energy back, and it was awful because I was just so worried I was going to stay like that forever. I kept seeing people on social media saying they had no symptoms, or that it just felt like a cold, and I was like “oh God – why does it feel so much worse for me?”
‘Now, I haven’t had any bad symptoms for about three weeks, but every time I feel tired or get the hint of a headache I’m freaking out. I spend hours Googling long Covid and obsessively check my temperature whenever I feel a bit off. It’s not sustainable to feel this worried about it.’
The stress around long Covid is particularly unhelpful for people who are ill or recovering, so it’s important to recognise this anxiety and take steps to tackle it.
What to do if you’re really worried about long Covid
‘If you feel like you’re not recovering from Covid it can be upsetting and worrying, but remember everyone is different and it can take up to 12 weeks for you to feel back at your best,’ says Dr Zenon.
‘If you are not already vaccinated, I would recommend that you consider that, as there is evidence that the vaccine may help with long Covid symptoms.
‘I would also recommend keeping a diary of your symptoms so you can see how they fluctuate day to day, and if there are any factors that seem to make them worse or better.
‘Make an appointment with your GP if you’re worried, and take your diary with you to make it easier to explain your symptoms.’
Jason O’Callaghan, is a psychologist specialising in clinical hypnotherapy. He says the impact of anxiety can actually make people who are infected worse and possibly make your symptoms last longer in itself.
‘The more stressed and anxious you are, the more damage you do to your immune system, which is what fights the virus in the first place,’ Jason tells Metro.co.uk. ‘So learning to manage your anxiety and worry less about Covid is better for your physical and mental health.’
He adds that it’s important to be careful about where you’re getting your information from, and how much Covid news you are consuming. You need to set boundaries for yourself.
‘Those worried about long Covid may become obsessed with social media posts, or using Dr Google for information,’ he says. ‘This is not going to help you get over or move on from long Covid.
‘Information should only be take from professional medical sources such as the NHS. Currently, even with vaccines, there is little more you can do to recover from long Covid apart from taking good care of yourself. This includes ensuing you rest, eat correctly, sleep well and talk to friends or professional if you feel overwhelmed by your anxiety.
‘Becoming unhealthily fixated with long Covid is going to do you more harm then good, and the key should be to manage your health from all sides.’
Jason suggests daily mindfulness or hypnotherapy sessions, along with looking after your sleep, diet, and staying away from social media or anything that increases your anxiety levels.
‘Self care is the key to a healthy and happy life through this difficult period,’ Jason adds.
How to cope if you have health anxiety
Health anxiety is a form of the condition that causes people to be especially worried about their bodies and illnesses. So living through a pandemic with this mental health condition is going to be tough.
For people with health anxiety, they will likely catastrophise every possible negative eventuality, so stressing about the possibility of getting long Covid is almost inevitable.
‘Anxiety can affect how your body recovers from lots of illnesses,’ says Dr Tom MacLaren, Consultant Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health.
‘You should keep up your usual activities as much you can, taking exercise regularly, seeing your friends and family and keeping up with your hobbies. Doing those things will help take your mind off the anxious thoughts and feelings and give you an outlet and support.
‘Living with anxiety can be hard but you are not alone. Thousands of people in the UK have anxiety and it will affect many of us at some point in our lives.
‘People with health anxiety think a lot about how to protect their body from harm. As Covid has been with us for so long, this can be a very difficult time for people with health anxiety.
‘You might have some shortness of breath, reduced energy or even feelings like your mind and body are slowed down. These effects could all make your anxiety worse, so it’s so important to be aware of them.
‘Do check the NHS website which has lots of helpful advice, call NHS 111 to speak with the NHS team, or contact your GP. It’s their job to worry about these things for you, and help you get the right help.’
It can be hard to find the balance between being cautious and being aware of how you are feeling, and become hyper-focused on a specific health anxiety. Dr Tom says awareness of both your illness and your anxiety is really important.
‘Being aware of your mind and body is really healthy, but sometimes we get overly worried. That’s normal too, especially when we read news about Covid,’ he explains.
‘If you have long Covid, or if you’ve had the infection and still have painful memories of it, that might make your anxious feelings a lot worse.
‘If you feel that your mind is staying on Covid a lot, have a look at the NHS Covid Recovery website. There is a lot of help there on what to look out for and how you can start getting help.’
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