Difficult to talk about your mental health?

Illustrations by Tom Bailey

Do you find it difficult talking about your mental health?

We know that Long Covid can affect your mental health, and that you might be suffering with your thoughts and feelings alongside your physical symptoms. For example, you may be experiencing anxiety or feeling down. This does not mean that your Long Covid symptoms are ‘all in your head’. The impact of these mental health or emotional effects can be traumatic for people and many worry that they can not talk about this and should focus on the physical symptoms.

For example, people with Long Covid have said that:

  • symptoms can be entirely mistreated as a mental health condition which is upsetting
    I feel upset because he tried to give me Prozac for it, and I’m trying to explain, it’s not a Prozac situation here
    Female, aged 50-59
  • the language used to describe symptoms can be unhelpful
    I am not saying I don’t have some mental health issues but it is just that they, yes I was referred to a psychiatric services and the doctor in that service said that I’d had a, I can’t remember the phrase he used but it sounded like he was diagnosing me in a different way. It’s absolutely categorical that I’ve had chronic fatigue and then possibly Long COVID after that. But he said in a letter that he wrote that I’d had a, I think it was a psychosomatic or something. Chronic fatigue is definitely not psychosomatic, it is a physical illness.
    Female, aged 50-59
  • they can be made to feel like they are exaggerating their symptoms
    ..they [GP] sent me to the, they had specially converted places where specially meant for Covid. They were like assessment centre I think they were; they were all Covid related and luckily there wasn’t one far from where I live and I made my way to one, it was again anxiety. I mean, by the time I finished speaking to them, they were like to me, they made me feel like all my symptoms and like, they made me feel like I wasted their time, yes, that’s it. I felt like I wasted their time and now I’m, made me feel like I’m overexaggerating my problems and that nothing is wrong with me.
    Female, aged 50-59

People living with Long Covid have suggested different ways to help manage their mental health and these may help you too. These include:

  • Allowing themselves time to rest
  • Focusing on self-care and taking time for themselves
  • Speaking with others – friends, family or support groups
  • Engaging with activities (both online and offline) – e.g. walking groups* or coffee mornings
  • Following healthy behaviours

* for those who are able to tolerate and manage exercise

Although people with Long Covid do have bad experiences, people do find ways to get support, even if they have to get support from charities and others who have Long Covid. So, it is important to reach out if you are suffering. Why not try speaking to friends or family using the advice in the Do you need help talking about your symptoms with family or friends? section, or use the resources in the Do you need help talking about your symptoms with professionals? to guide a conversation with a professional.