Most relevant mental reactions to COVID-19 infection
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 06-03-2023

Most relevant mental reactions to COVID-19 infection


The COVID-19 pandemic took a huge toll on everyone’s lives. It took the lives of more than a million people worldwide. The impact was the same regardless of whether the person or their family was infected or not. We all felt its impact in almost every aspect of our lives. Countries have been hit hard in terms of their economies, healthcare systems, education systems, and jobs.

Impact of covid-19 on mental health

Apart from its impact on physical health, COVID-19 managed to affect people’s mental health significantly. A study from the US reported that 41% of the respondents said they had at least one severe mental or behavioral condition. This includes anxiety, depression, PTSD, and any kind of substance abuse. These rates have multiplied 3 to 4 times compared to pre-COVID times. Among the respondents, 11% had seriously considered committing suicide. Social disruption along with interpersonal loss overwhelmed the population in coping with bereavement.

The infected individuals who were not severely infected compared to those who required hospitalization and ventilators complained about a feeling known as covid-fog and numbed limbs due to fright. These people reported that they were unable to carry on with their regular lives. For example, fumbling with words, depression, anxiety, exhaustion even crossing the street, and/or PTSD.

Doctors and researchers state that the issue is not over when they leave the hospital. The physical health condition might have recovered; however, mental health declined

Earlier epidemics have provided evidence for this case. Research conducted in Hong Kong reported that the 2003 SARS epidemic showed a 30% increase in suicides in women over the age of 65 years (Chan et al., 2006). After a year of the epidemic breakout, the survivors still stated they had heightened distress and anxiety (Lee et al., 2007). SARS survivors after a 30-month follow up termed the epidemic as “A Mental Health Catastrophe”, also reporting that depression and PTSD were highly prevalent psychological disorders (Mak et al., 2009).

Recent studies have also reported similar results after examining survivors of COVID-19. Among 2 lakh participants, 34% showed an incidence of a psychiatric or a neurological diagnosis after 6 months (Taquet et al., 2020). The most common mental reaction was anxiety accounting for 17% and mood disorders about 14%.

Furthermore, studies have shown that survivors of coronavirus are at high risk of developing PTSD. It varies on three factors, experiencing and suffering from the coronavirus, witnessing coronavirus patients, and developing a fear of the infection (Xiao et al., 2020).

In conclusion, survivors of and witnesses to COVID-19 have developed anxiety and depression most commonly. In addition to that, they are highly prone to PTSD. This highlights the urgent need for mental health services. Online anxiety and depression counselling can help you and the people you know to overcome the negative mental health reactions to COVID-19.

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Mak, I. W. C., Chu, C. M., Pan, P. C., Yiu, M. G. C., & Chan, V. L. (2009). Long-term psychiatric morbidities among SARS survivors. General hospital psychiatry31(4), 318-326.

Chan, S. M. S., Chiu, F. K. H., Lam, C. W. L., Leung, P. Y. V., & Conwell, Y. (2006). Elderly suicide and the 2003 SARS epidemic in Hong Kong. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: A journal of the psychiatry of late life and allied sciences21(2), 113-118.

Xiao, S., Luo, D., & Xiao, Y. (2020). Survivors of COVID-19 are at high risk of posttraumatic stress disorder. Global health research and policy5, 1-3.

Lee, A. M., Wong, J. G., McAlonan, G. M., Cheung, V., Cheung, C., Sham, P. C., ... & Chua, S. E. (2007). Stress and psychological distress among SARS survivors 1 year after the outbreak. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry52(4), 233-240.


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