While the connection between long COVID and anxiety isn’t fully understood, there are many resources in place to help you cope with anxious thoughts.

Most mild COVID-19 infections typically begin to improve within a week or two after the onset of the condition. But for people who develop long COVID after having COVID-19, symptoms can last for months or even years after the initial infection.

Long COVID can cause both neurological and psychological changes, such as brain fog, depression, and anxiety, to name a few. Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of long COVID, and it affects a significant percentage of people with the condition.

Below, we’ll share what you need to know about long COVID and anxiety, including what the research says and how to get treatment for this symptom.

Research has shown that there’s a link between long-term COVID-19 and an increase in mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression.

One research review found that roughly 19% of people with long COVID reported experiencing anxiety. However, other studies have reported a prevalence rate of upward of 40–50%.

In one meta-analysis from 2022, researchers explored the neurological and neuropsychiatric effects of long COVID. In this study, they specifically analyzed the prevalence of symptoms that occurred 3 months or more after a COVID-19 infection.

Results of the analysis, which included 18 studies and a total of 10,530 participants, found that roughly 23% of participants reported experiencing anxiety 3 months or more after a COVID-19 infection.

In addition, this analysis found that in studies where more than 20% of the participants were admitted to the ICU, there was a higher prevalence of anxiety and other symptoms, like depression and sleep disturbances.

Can long-term COVID-19 cause panic attacks?

A panic attack describes a sudden and brief episode of intense anxiety, panic, and fear, usually completely out of the blue. Panic attacks aren’t uncommon in people who have anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions.

Although studies on the link between panic attacks and COVID-19 are limited, people who have anxiety caused by long COVID may be more prone to experiencing panic attacks.

One of the reasons experts believe long COVID causes anxiety is because COVID-19 can cause changes in the brain that may increase symptoms like anxiety and depression.

In one study from 2022, researchers explored indicators of central nervous system (CNS) injury in participants who had been hospitalized for COVID-19, both with and without long COVID.

The results of the study found that participants with long COVID had higher than average anxiety levels. According to the researchers, this relationship is likely due to the central nervous system damage and ongoing inflammation that COVID-19 can cause.

Still, research on this phenomenon is relatively new, and experts are continuing to explore the relationship between COVID-19 and anxiety, depression, and other psychological changes.

It’s difficult to say how long post-COVID-19 anxiety might last because researchers still aren’t sure how long the symptoms of long COVID last. For some people, they resolve in as little as 6 months, while for others, they remain chronic.

But even though we’re still exploring treatment options for long COVID, there are plenty of evidence-based treatment approaches for anxiety.


Therapy is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety because it teaches you the coping skills needed to manage your anxious thoughts and feelings. Several different therapies are effective for anxiety, including:

Each of these therapies uses different approaches, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to treating anxiety with therapy.


Medications are also an effective treatment for many people with anxiety, especially when it comes to managing the physical symptoms of anxiety. Some of the most common medications for anxiety include:

  • antidepressants, which work by altering the levels of different neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin and norepinephrine
  • beta-blockers, which doctors typically prescribe for heart conditions but can also help manage the physical symptoms of anxiety
  • benzodiazepines, which are typically short-acting medications that can help relieve the acute symptoms of anxiety

Lifestyle changes

Other lifestyle changes — like moving your body regularly, practicing mindfulness, and making time for self-care — can also help you manage anxiety in the long run.

Talking about your anxiety

Anxiety can be a difficult emotion to cope with, especially when there’s an underlying condition that might be causing it, like long COVID.

But if you’ve noticed that your anxiety is making it hard to function, you’re not alone — and there are resources and professionals who can help. You can reach out to your doctor for a mental health referral or check out FindTreatment.gov’s search tool to find professionals near you.

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Anxiety is just one of the many psychological symptoms that can develop with long COVID. While researchers still aren’t entirely sure what causes this symptom, they believe it may have something to do with the damage and inflammation in the central nervous system from COVID-19.

If you’ve been experiencing increased anxiety or any other mental health changes after COVID-19, consider reaching out to your doctor to discuss your concerns. With the right treatment, you can learn how to better cope with and manage your symptoms.