'It's like a haunting.' Many COVID-19 patients deal with PTSD, depression & more after recovery

mental health file
Posted at 5:40 AM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 06:59:03-04

(WXYZ) — Researchers are learning more about how severe cases of COVID-19 can impact a person's mental health in the long term.

A study conducted in Italy found that 30% of patients who recovered from COVID-19 developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is often associated with soldiers after they leave a war zone – certain sounds or experiences can trigger flashbacks and cause panic.

Psychiatrists say it's a condition that can develop when you feel like your life is in danger. For COVID-19 patients, an ICU or emergency room is the war zone, and even when they get out, the stressors are still there.

"It was crazy because you could hear people screaming. I felt like people were in the psych ward, people crying and it was weird," Johtasha Mosley said.

Mosley was one of the first COVID-19 patients at Beaumont in Troy to go on a ventilator and survive.

She spent 94 days in a hospital bed, where doctors said she came face-to-face with death five times.

"I just wanted to die. I'm like just let me go," Mosley said. "t was that bad to me."

When it mattered most, Mosley found her will to live. Her body made a full recovery, but her mind did not.

"My lungs are back, my blood pressure is back, my kidneys are back. So it's mainly mental," she said.

Mosley said she finds herself in dark places often and certain sounds resembling a ventilator machine can send her spiraling out of control.

"This brain goes to fight or flight mode, and people have nightmares, people have flashbacks, and these flashbacks are as if I am there, I see things, I hear things--I feel the touches," Dr. Arash Javanbakht said. He researches stress, trauma and anxiety at Wayne State University.

He said there are a lot of layers to recovery after COVID-19. It can either be mental or physical

For Danielle Hurd, it was both. She lost her job, and at times, her sense of self.

"I get social security now. I am borderline diabetic now. I have really bad COPD, very bad depression, and I know it's a lot after having COVID," she said.

Hurd and Mosley both say they think about their journey every day.

"It's like a haunting because it's still going on. People around you are still dying," Mosley said.

"I sit around and I know I was able to work but now I am not able to work so that's when I really think about it," Hurd added.

Javanbahkt said the good thing about PTSD, depression and anxiety is they are all treatable.

He said the rise in virtual therapy means it is more accessible to people with busy schedules or in hard-to-reach areas.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.