COVID-19 Survivors Struggle Long After Their Isolation Ends

In May 2020, The Washington Post foreshadowed the following: Three months into the coronavirus pandemic, the country is on the verge of another health crisis, with daily doses of death, isolation, and fear generating widespread psychological trauma. 

Fast-forward approximately six months to November 2020, and an article entitled 20 Percent of Patients Who Recover from COVID Are Diagnosed with Mental Illness Within 90 Days appears. 

Mental Health Issues & COVID-19 

The Great Pandemic of 2020 is quickly becoming The Virus that Dictated 2021– this is a reality, not a debate. COVID-19 is not a cold that requires tissues, over-the-counter medicine, and hugs from mom. Nor is it the typical flu that keeps you home from work or school until you feel well enough to return. Along with curious symptoms like the loss of smell and taste, COVID-19 brings a government-regulated quarantine period that demands isolation from people and places. This piece is not a discussion on whether or not isolation is vital for those with COVID-19; this is a conversation about recognizing the crippling consequences of isolation and how best to deal with them. 

Do you exercise at a facility, invest in massages and self-care, visit a counselor, spend time with friends and family, or engage in other social situations, such as visiting a library or volunteering, to destress and keep your anxiety, depression, and worries at bay? Well, COVID-19 threw a wrench in what works for you months ago, and that wrench isn’t disappearing anytime soon. 

Coronavirus Survivors Feel Ostracised 

It’s understandable why individuals already diagnosed with a mental health issues find the COVID-19 regulations an unwanted hurdle on their quest for mental health, but why is a large percentage of COVID-19 patients popping up with diagnosable mental illnesses long after their symptoms subside? 

Although the verdict is still out and research is ongoing, it’s logical to draw a connection between what it feels like and what it means to experience a mandatory quarantine and isolation period. Another word for how it feels in that moment when you’re quarantined and isolated while experiencing a collection of symptoms that range from fever to vomiting to diarrhea to trouble breathing to bluish lips is ostracized. 

Ostracized is a brutal word, and although quarantining and isolation are well-intended, that fact doesn’t soften how it feels to know you are, in essence, a vessel of a life-threatening virus. As such, you are not welcome beyond the threshold of your home or hospital room. On top of that, it’s easy to see how COVID-19 survivors could look at the world as one large coronavirus petri dish with the potential to throw you back into the depths of the COVID-19 symptoms, quarantine, and isolation period. 

Tips for Mental Health & Well-Being 

Feeling shunned while fighting a sickness that’s known to make people feel a breath away from death’s door is sure to have effects that last long past your required quarantine. If you are a COVID-19 survivor who now feels paralyzed with anxiety, worry, stress, and other mental health issues, you are not alone. 

Consider adopting Columbia University’s tips for mental health and well-being: 

  • Be Nice to Yourself. 
    • “If you really are struggling to be nice to yourself, do something nice for someone else. Then, compliment yourself on doing it!” 
  • Exercise. 
    • “A regular exercise routine can boost one’s mood, increase concentration, and even help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.” 
  • Eat Healthy. 
    • “Vegetables and fruits? Absolutely! Nutritious foods. Sure. Don’t drink 10 cups of anything in a day, unless it’s water. But healthy eating also means having a healthy attitude toward food.” 
    • Consider including supplements, such as EMPowerplus Advanced, which is the most-studied micronutrient formula globally. 
  • ● Sleep Well. 
    • “The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends between 8-10 hours of sleep per night for teenagers and over 7 hours for those ages 20 and up. But sleeping well also refers to when you sleep and the quality of that sleep.”
  • Put the Screens to Sleep Before You Go to Bed. 
    • “Studies have shown that looking at screens before bedtime can affect how quickly you fall asleep, and the quality of that sleep.” 
  • Breathe Deep. 
  • Connect with Others. 
    • “Friends, family, pets… even a casual, friendly hello to a stranger can boost positive feelings, help ward off depression and anxiety, and make you feel that you are connected to others. Focus on the quality of your friendships, not the quantity.” 
  • Write Down Ways to Relax. 
  • Find Support (and Be Supportive). 
  • Take Small Steps. 

For 20% of patients who recover from COVID-19, their fight doesn’t end after their required period of isolation expires. For these 20%, mental health issues encompass their world as quickly as COVID-19. Unlike the coronavirus, mental health issues don’t guarantee an ending point. 

Be proactive by taking care of your health and well-being as best you can, and never hesitate to seek advice and guidance from those trained and capable to give you just that. 

Author: Evelyn Lindell 
Certified Health & Wellness Coach