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AdventHealth Doctors say PTSD, Survivor's Guilt Common Among Patients Who Have Recovered From COVID-19

Photo: Anthony Tran
Photo: Anthony Tran

COVID-19 survivors, including COVID long-haulers, might be suffering from PTSD and other mental health concerns after recovery. That’s according to doctors at AdventHealth.

AdventHealth Lung Transplant Medical Director Dr. Cynthia Gries has treated COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic.

Gries says it’s common for her to see symptoms of PTSD in her patients after they recover. 

She says one young man who was on a ventilator and was partially paralyzed for weeks as a result, even expressed feelings of survivor’s guilt.

“But the thing that really struck me when we were in the office together was his feeling of survivor guilt, that why was he that lucky to survive where other people haven’t.”

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Gries says it’s not surprising as many of these patients have experienced trauma during diagnosis and treatment. 

“The general population knows that oh my goodness you get COVID, there's a good chance you might die from it. So once someone gets it that initial fear is going to be there. I think also when they get hospitalized, if they were to get hospitalized they’re not allowed to see their loved ones.”

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She says anyone experiencing symptoms like a change in sleeping or eating patterns, feelings of helplessness or general apathy to favorite hobbies or activities should talk to their doctor.

“The thing that I'd always tell my patients after they explain that these were the symptoms they're feeling, is just let them know this is normal. Like if you weren’t experiencing these things there'd be something wrong with you because what you've gone through is very traumatic.”

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A study in Lancet Psychiatry Journal found 1 in 3 COVID-19 survivors will suffer from mental health problems within six months of their initial diagnosis.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.