'Post-COVID-19 anxiety' affects 20 percent of COVID-19 survivors, study shows

Posted at 4:32 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 20:49:33-05

According to a new study from the University of Oxford, around 20% of COVID-19 survivors are struggling with mental health issues after recovering from the disease.

"We can never underestimate how hard our physical stress can be on our mental health," said Dr. Kate Chard, a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

The University of Oxford study states one in five people who survive COVID-19 are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder in the following three months, including anxiety, depression or insomnia. It also states COVID-19 survivors are twice as likely as any other group of patients to experience these issues.

"I got to the point where sometimes you wish you were dead," said Gregory Rupp, who spent four months battling COVID-19. "But now, it's totally different. Now that I'm moving again. But it's a learning process. You've got to start from scratch. Everything. Hands, feet, muscles."

Rupp spent many days on a ventilator in the ICU in St. Elizabeth Hospital fighting for his life, and although he's home now, regaining his strength, he said the entire experience has taken a mental toll as well.

"It gives you anxiety and taxing and everything else," he said. He's now on medication to help handle his mental health issues.

Chard said the mental battle survivors grapple with after recovering from COVID-19 is becoming a secondary part of the disease with which patients have to cope.

"Not everyone who has COVID is going to go on and develop secondary symptoms," she said. "So it's really good to be aware of 'what symptoms do I have now, what is my care team doing to treat me,' and then being aware if I have something develop in the future, to move on it quickly."

She said this means reaching out to a doctor or a mental health professional if patients start to experience any mental health issues. Rupp said, for him, relying on those closest to him was also key to getting back on his feet.

"My family, they really helped me," said Rupp. "Without them, I don't think I would've made it."