Had COVID-19? Studies warn of serious potential psychological side effects

While most people recover fairly quickly from COVID-19, it’s estimated that around 10% of people continue to experience symptoms which last for many months.

Sufferers of long COVID report feeling fatigued, struggling with their breathing, and experiencing brain fog and difficulty concentrating.

Efficient and gentle, I barely noticed the process and before I knew it, the samples were collected for my blood draw

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Behind the scenes though at Blood Tests in London, time is ticking to get your blood to the laboratory for analysis. Couriers visit our clinic every 15 mins to collect new samples and transport them to the laboratory for testing.

What is long COVID?

For some people, COVID-19 causes symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is known as post-COVID-19 syndrome or long COVID.

How long it takes to recover from the initial infection of COVID-19 is different for everybody. Many people feel better in a few days or weeks, and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, the symptoms can last for a lot longer.

The chance of experiencing long COVID doesn’t seem to be linked to how sick you are when you first get COVID-19 so it’s not guaranteed that you will experience long COVID if you were particularly unwell or, conversely, that you will avoid long COVID because you had a mild illness.

But it isn’t just sufferers of long COVID reporting long-term complications as a result of Coronavirus. Recent studies have shown an increased trend of mental health problems in those who have previously had the virus.

A ticking time bomb for mental health?

A major study looking at the long-term mental health implications of COVID-19 has found that patients over the age of 50 are particularly at risk for a range of psychological issues.

But while over-50s are in a vulnerable category, more prone to blood vessel and brain changes after infection, compared with younger people, they aren’t alone in being at risk. The study found that all people who caught COVID were more likely to be left with mental health issues than those who had not had the virus. Severity of the illness, age, gender, and ethnicity had no impact on the likelihood of developing mental health problems.

The study, which was published in the Lancet Psychiatry and used data from nearly 55,000 people, revealed that psychological problems found in previous sufferers of the virus included depression, anxiety, psychological distress, and general lower life satisfaction.

Other mental health complications associated with COVID-19

This discovery comes after another study earlier this year linked long COVID to a substantial increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The Danish study showed that people who had COVID-19 previously were also at risk of later developing life-altering brain complications, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and stroke.

Researchers looked at data from over 900,000 people who tested for the virus. Studies found that the positive patients were 3.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s down the line. They also discovered that this group was 4.8 times more likely to suffer a brain bleed, 2.7 times more likely to suffer a stroke, and 2.6 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s.

These sobering statistics make it particularly important to keep an eye on your health if you’ve previously had the COVID-19 virus, looking out for changes to your general health and cognitive function.

But while testing became more efficient and widespread as the pandemic developed, in late 2019 and early 2020, the virus was spreading in the population without tools to diagnose the infection. Many of us put our symptoms down to a particularly bad case of flu and have online later suspected that we may have actually had COVID-19 at the time.

If you’re concerned about your long term health or feel that you have had symptoms which could be long COVID, but never got tested, you may be wondering if you’re at risk .

How do you know if you had long Covid?

While there isn’t a specific long COVID test, there are checks and tests which are helpful in diagnosing the conditions associated with long covid.  Those, combined with the knowledge that you were infected with the disease, are a good indicator that you are experiencing long COVID.

If you think you’re experiencing long COVID, and want to find out more, talk to our team about the range of blood tests available. Understanding your current health status means you can get on the right track to feeling better, choosing the right vitamins, supplements or treatments needed to help optimise your health, as well as understanding if there is another underlying condition to be aware of.

Convenient local long COVID testing in London

Our central London walk in clinic makes getting your private blood test quick and convenient. Simply purchase your test online and attend the clinic on the same day.

At your appointment, the friendly team will talk to you about your test, collect your blood sample and send it off for testing at an accredited partner laboratory. All you need to do is arrive for your appointment. We’ll take care of the test, and the rest.

Find out more about our tests