New SAMHSA Guidance Addresses Mental Health Symptoms In Long COVID Patients


Mental Health Symptoms

As millions of Americans continue to grapple with the mysterious and debilitating effects of long COVID, a recent advisory from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is offering crucial guidance to physicians on identifying mental health symptoms associated with the condition.

Released in June as part of the Biden administration’s long COVID research action plan, these guidelines aim to provide a framework that helps medical professionals, patients, and providers better understand and manage the mental health symptoms linked to long COVID, including anxiety, fatigue, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others.

Dr. Serena S. Spudich, a professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine, underscores the significance of these guidelines, stating, “They validate and create categories for these conditions, and then provide some kind of guidance about how to manage them.”

This guidance is particularly critical because individuals suffering from long COVID often experience debilitating mental and behavioral health symptoms, demanding immediate attention and care.

Molly Sanborn, a Public Health Analyst at SAMHSA, emphasizes their commitment to prioritizing the identification and treatment of individuals dealing with the mental and behavioral health aspects of long COVID.

She acknowledges the severe impact these symptoms can have on individuals and highlights the pressing need for effective interventions.

Dr. Spudich explains that long COVID symptoms often blur the lines between what was traditionally considered psychiatric or psychological issues and neurological concerns. Many times, these conditions overlap, such as the co-occurrence of depression and brain fog.

A meta-analysis conducted in October 2021, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), revealed that around one in three COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorders, while one in five were diagnosed with depression.

Long COVID also takes a toll on cognitive function, affecting concentration, causing brain fog, and impacting memory.

A study conducted at the Mount Sinai Health System found that eight months after infection, at least one cognitive impairment was present in 25 percent of COVID-19 survivors.

Dr. Spudich underscores the profound implications of cognitive challenges on mental health. She explains that these challenges may be due to disruptions in communication between brain nerves or changes in blood vessels that affect blood flow to the brain.

In their new guidance, SAMHSA explicitly urges healthcare providers, especially primary care physicians, to actively look for and document symptoms or potential symptoms of long COVID in their patients.

The guidance acknowledges that the management of long COVID requires a multidisciplinary approach, given its impact on multiple organ systems. Primary care physicians are expected to play a crucial role in this effort.

The SAMHSA guidance emphasizes the importance of providing information in accessible formats, including resources for clinical trials and support groups.

However, it also highlights the potential for appointment backlogs, with neuropsychologists, behavioral neurologists, and psychiatrists being in high demand. These delays in appointments can further prolong patients’ options for recovery.

To address this issue, the guidance suggests integrating specialists into primary care settings to expedite the diagnosis and treatment process. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive timely and comprehensive care.

Furthermore, SAMHSA’s guidance underscores the impact of social determinants of health on long COVID outcomes, exacerbating disparities among vulnerable populations.

Structural, social, and health inequities have made Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations more susceptible to higher levels of disease transmission and long COVID.

These populations are 1.5 to 1.6 times more likely to experience long COVID than white individuals. Access to mental health care also poses a barrier for certain racial and ethnic groups, exacerbating these disparities.

In conclusion, while many questions remain unanswered, experts emphasize the importance of acknowledging that long COVID can profoundly affect mental health.

The SAMHSA guidance provides a crucial step forward in recognizing and addressing these often misunderstood symptoms.

It aims to ensure that fewer individuals fall through the cracks and that those suffering from long COVID receive the care and support they desperately need.

Up Next

Addressing Racial Disparities in Mental Health, Clinicians and Lawmakers Collaborate

Racial Disparities in Mental Health

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the significant racial disparities in mental health outcomes among different racial and ethnic groups in the United States. These disparities, deeply rooted in systemic inequities, have raised concerns and prompted action from clinicians and lawmakers alike.

In this article, we will explore the barriers related to race in accessing mental health care and the collaborative efforts underway to address them.

Understanding the Racial Disparities In Mental Health

Mental health disparities along racial lines

Up Next

Biden-Harris Administration Unveils New Measures To Expand Access To Mental Health Services In Schools

Mental Health Services In Schools

In a significant move to address the growing mental health crisis among students in the United States, the Biden-Harris administration has introduced a comprehensive plan aimed at enhancing access to mental health services in schools across the country.

The initiative comes as schools grapple with the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ emotional well-being and mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of students in unprecedented ways, leading to increased stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. As students transitioned to remote learning, faced s

Up Next

Amanda Bynes Contemplates Leaving Los Angeles Following Mental Health Facility Stay

Amanda Bynes

Amanda Bynes, the former child star known for her roles in Nickelodeon shows like “All That” and “The Amanda Show,” is reportedly considering leaving Los Angeles following her recent stay in a mental health facility.

Bynes, who has faced several public struggles with her mental health over the years, has been a topic of concern and conversation among her fans and the media.

The 36-year-old actress was placed in a mental health facility in 2020 following a series of incidents that raised concerns about her well-being. During her time in the facility, she received treatment for various mental health issues. Bynes’ struggles with mental health have been well-documented, including her public bre

Up Next

The Overwhelming Impact Of Social Media And Academic Anxiety On Children

Academic anxiety

Recent years have witnessed a troubling surge in the number of children grappling with academic anxiety and depression, a disconcerting trend accompanied by a notable increase in self-harm among young individuals.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that suicides among children aged 10 to 18 surged by over 50% between 2001 and 2020.

Furthermore, a separate CDC report, drawing from poison control center data, disclosed a 73% rise in the rate of suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning among children aged 10 to 12 from 2019 to 2021. Among 13- to 15-year-olds, the rat

Up Next

Expansion Of PrairieCare Brings Additional Mental Health Crisis Beds For Youth

Expansion Of PrairieCare

In a significant development for youth mental health care, there is big news regarding the expansion of PrairieCare to provide more crisis beds specifically tailored to the needs of young individuals facing mental health challenges. This expansion of PrairieCare marks a crucial step in addressing the pressing issue of youth mental health and aims to bridge a critical gap in the continuum of care.

The shortage of mental health crisis beds, especially for young individuals, has been a growing concern in many communities. PrairieCare’s commitment to expanding its services comes at a time when the demand for mental health support for youth is on the rise.

Up Next

Escalating Mental Health Concerns Among Wisconsin Teenage Girls Demand Urgent Attention

Mental Health Concerns

The well-being of Wisconsin’s teenage girls is under a growing shadow of mental health concerns, as revealed by concerning data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officials from the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health have sounded the alarm, deeming the statistics deeply troubling.

The data paints a stark picture: more than half of high school-aged girls in the state report suffering from anxiety, while a staggering 50% confess to feeling sad or hopeless every single day. Equally distressing, over a quarter of these young girls admit to self-harm.

Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that 25% of Wisconsin’s teenage girls have contemplated suicide, with 20% of them having formulated a concrete plan. Shockingly, more than half of those who de

Up Next

Selena Gomez Opens Up About Her Battles With Anxiety, Depression, And Mental Health Challenges During Her Toughest Times

Battles With Anxiety

Selena Gomez, a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, has always been known for her openness about her battles with anxiety and depression. As a staunch advocate for mental health, the 31-year-old singer and actress has shared her journey of ups, downs, and health challenges throughout her decades-long career, which began in her childhood.

During a recent appearance at the Music and Health Summit held in Los Angeles on September 19, Selena Gomez once again took the opportunity to shed light on her mental health journey. She spoke passionately about how the bedroom, often considered a place of comfort and rest, can serve as a trigger for her.