News Release

Research on Coping with Long Covid


A new paper by the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, published in Nature Mental Health, looks in depth at a variety of factors associated with psychiatric outcomes in patients with Long Covid. 

    Re’em is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine and assistant attending psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He has firsthand experience with Long Covid since March 2020, when he contracted Covid. 

Re’em, who is a co-author on the paper, told the Institute for Public Accuracy that surveys put out by the Patient-Led Research Collaborative were some of the first studies to look at the symptom burden of Long Covid and to “characterize the disease at the patient level.” The analysis in Nature Mental Health looks at factors associated with suicidal thoughts, depression, and anxiety in patients with Long Covid prior to the Omicron wave in Winter 2021. 

Key findings include: 

  • Not everyone with Long Covid experienced a mental health outcome. 
  • 42.8 percent of people with Long Covid experienced depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts. 
  • In patients with Long Covid who experience psychiatric outcomes, men are significantly more likely to be suicidal than women; nonbinary and gender nonconforming respondents were more likely to be anxious and suicidal than men and women; people with depression, suicidality, and anxiety were significantly more likely to be younger (in the 18-29 year age range); and lower income brackets were associated with higher levels of psychiatric outcomes. 

Re’em said: “It’s not surprising to me, but it’s important to note how much suicidality there is in this population. That’s something that’s been largely underappreciated.” Re’em was also disheartened by the fact that more than 50 percent of respondents reported having at least one negative experience with a medical provider in the first several months of illness, in which the provider was “harmful,” “dismissive,” “skeptical,” or “apathetic.” Those who experienced a negative interaction with a provider, or who reported that at least one of their doctors did not believe their illness, were significantly more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal. 

Re’em also emphasized that the survey findings show that Long Covid is not a psychosomatic illness and that patients are not struggling with Long Covid because of poor coping skills. Indeed, the majority of Long Covid patients do not experience psychiatric problems; Re’em said that removes the emphasis on the idea that Long Covid is a psychiatric problem. “In general, we know that people are generally resilient during periods of trauma. We knew that before and this data [only] expands upon that. This data shows that people with Long Covid have generally-adaptive coping mechanisms: maladaptive strategies aren’t causing [illness].”