17. March 2021
The longer the pandemic lasts and the more people become infected with the corona virus, the clearer it becomes: Corona infection can lead to severe late effects. The tricky thing is that covid long-term consequences are not limited to severe courses of the disease. Rather, even mild courses can trigger long-term symptoms. The unpleasant consequences of a corona infection affect not only the body, but also the psyche. Chronic exhaustion, pain and reduced performance as a result of Covid-19 are highly stressful and not infrequently lead to depression or other mental illnesses. Holistic treatment at the physical and psychological levels is thus of particular importance in Long-Covid.
It is not only medical professionals who are now frequently reporting the late effects of corona infection. Also in the social media can be found under the hashtag #postcovid more and more affected. A common feature in the suffering of many of those affected seems to be that they initially feel recovered after the acute corona infection, but then suffer a relapse. This is the beginning of a period of physical and psychological suffering in which those affected often have to reorient their entire lives. For many, it is now at least a small consolation that their suffering is receiving more and more recognition and consideration.
Excursus: Why do long-term sequelae occur with corona infection? Meanwhile, experts no longer speak of Covid-19 as a lung disease, but rather as a multi-organ disease. Although the virus initially attacks the respiratory tract and lungs, in many cases it then spreads to other organs and can damage the entire body. The body reacts to the infection with a strong defense reaction, the immune system stands on its head. This puts an enormous strain on the entire organism and is not without consequences. One speaks of post-infectious symptoms, so signs that the body after infection is not yet back in balance.
Of course, the virus primarily attacks the body. However, the Corona long-term consequences are not only physical. Because of the close interaction between the body and the psyche, there are effects on both levels. Due to the physical limitations, the uncertainty and the massive disruption in life caused by the late effects of the Corona infection, mental health is in particular danger.
Long Covid Syndrome: Common Symptoms
The first symptoms that come to mind with long-covid syndrome are breathing problems. These also seem to actually be present in many sufferers. Thus, there is talk of shortness of breath, coughing, shallow breathing and pain when breathing. However, the late effects of corona do not only refer to the respiratory system. Rather, the entire organism is affected and its performance is restricted.
Those affected experience extreme fatigue and exhaustion. The technical term for this is “chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)”, i.e. chronic fatigue that makes it impossible to cope with everyday life. Stress intolerance is also frequently reported. This means that the body of those affected reacts violently to the slightest effort. The smallest walk or even the preparation of a cup of coffee can lead to a “shut-down,” i.e., a state of complete inability to act.
This can be compounded by other symptoms, such as
The severe physical limitations bring great psychological suffering. The leaden exhaustion wears down those affected and wears down their psychological resilience. The risk of mental illness increases.
Long-term psychological consequences in long-covid syndrome: depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD
The long-term effects of corona infection can fundamentally change lives. Affected individuals are sometimes unable to manage their daily lives on their own, let alone return to their jobs, due to their severe exhaustion. Frustration, anger, sadness and anxiety set in. For most people, not being able to meet their own performance standards comes as a shock. In addition, Long-Covid Syndrome is a disease that is not visible on the outside. In the worst case, the environment reacts with incomprehension and rejection.
All these factors can promote the development of depression. In addition, many sufferers have to struggle with fears and worries, because there is still no reliable prediction of how long their suffering will last. If anxiety and worry become chronic, anxiety disorder can develop. There is also a risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially after severe episodes that required intubation.
Many treatment or rehabilitation options for Long-Covid are primarily related to the physical level. For example, cardiovascular function is strengthened through weight-bearing exercise, lung function is trained, and muscles are built. But the psychological level is just as important. New behaviors have to be learned, such as self-care, mindfulness and relaxation techniques, which help to cope with the new daily routine. In addition, there is professional support in coping with the disease.
Many sufferers are desperate, feel misunderstood and are angry with themselves and their bodies. Here it is important to establish a basic attitude of acceptance. Only those who are no longer fighting against the disease itself can fully invest their resources in the healing process.
Excursus: In order to improve the care of Long Covid patients, there are now so-called post-covid outpatient clinics in many cities. Here, affected persons can report and are supported in their rehabilitation.
The close interconnection of physical and psychological symptoms in Long-Covid suggests a psychosomatic treatment. Psychosomatic means that both the psyche and the body (soma) are considered in the healing process from the beginning. As specialized clinics for psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatics, the LIMES Schlosskliniken treat Long-Covid Syndrome holistically.
Psychosomatic treatment at LIMES Schlosskliniken is based on the following basic assumptions
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