Long COVID: Low mood and depression
Urgent advice: Phone 111 if:
- you're feeling distressed, in a state of despair, suicidal or in need of emotional support
Being unwell can have an impact on your mental health. It’s not unusual to experience lower mood after being through a significant event such as coronavirus (COVID-19). It can take a while to process what you've been through and the impact this has had and may still be having on your life. If you haven't been able to do the activities you would usually do, this can have a big impact on your mood as well.
Symptoms of low mood and depression
Signs and symptoms of low mood can include:
- feeling anxious or panicky
- low self-esteem
- feelings of hopelessness
A low mood usually lifts after a few days or weeks. However, a low mood that doesn't go away can be a sign of depression.
In addition to the symptoms above, depression can include:
- low mood lasting 2 weeks or more
- not getting any enjoyment out of life
- feeling hopeless
- feeling tired or lacking energy
- not being able to concentrate on everyday things, like reading the paper or watching television
- comfort eating or losing your appetite
- sleeping more than usual, or being unable to sleep
- having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming yourself
If negative feelings don't go away, are too much for you to cope with, or are stopping you from carrying on with your normal life, you may need to make some changes and get some extra support.
If you experience depression symptoms most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks, you should visit your GP.
Managing low mood
These are some things you can do to manage your mood.
Look after yourself
Simple lifestyle factors can have a big effect on mood. Try to:
- stick to a routine
- limit your alcohol intake
- choose a well-balanced diet
- do some exercise
- get enough sleep
Connect with others
Reach out to family and friends and speak with them on the phone, or through video calls if you're unable to see them face to face. If talking feels too much, try to stay in touch through messages instead.
Take part in meaningful activities
When people feel low, they sometimes don’t feel like doing their usual activities. You might also find that you can't do all the activities you used to do while you're recovering from coronavirus.
Try to think about small, achievable activities you can complete every day that will give you a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment.
Write a recovery diary
Try writing down how your recovery is going and the achievements you've made along the way, both big and small. It can be helpful to look back on the positive progress you've made.
It can also be helpful to write down any difficult thoughts and feelings you've been experiencing, in order to help you to ‘step back’ from them.
Be kind to yourself
Recovery takes time and it's important to let yourself rest and recover. This can feel difficult if any ongoing symptoms are ‘hidden’.
You might find that you're being very hard on yourself, and seeing yourself as 'lazy'. However, if you broke your leg, you wouldn't try to run a race straight away. It can be helpful to think about what you'd say to a close friend or family member if they were in your position.
Depression self-help guide
Work through our self-help guide for depression that uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
When to seek help
If you're still feeling down after a couple of weeks, talk to your GP.
It's especially important to seek help if:
- you have symptoms of depression that aren't getting any better
- your work, relationships with friends and family, or interests are affected by your mood
If you are diagnosed with depression, your GP will discuss all of the available treatment options with you, including self-help, talking therapies and antidepressants.
You may be able to access a computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) course or be referred for further support, such as talking therapies.
More help and information
If you're feeling low and want to talk to someone, you can phone Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.
The Breathing Space phoneline is available:
- 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday to 6am Monday)
- 6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday to Thursday)
The information on this page is for people aged 18 and over. Contact your GP or paediatric team directly if you're worried about possible long COVID symptoms in a child or young person under 18.
23 November 2022
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