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How can you tell the difference between depression and long covid?


I'm really confused about long covid... whether it's even a thing... or if it is a thing, what percentage of people who claim to have it actually have some virus-related long-term illness and which percentage have depression but are calling it long-covid.

At the same time, my depression got really, really bad during the pandemic... I assume it's depression... but I'm assuming it because I've got PTSD, so depression seems the natural go-to.

Many years ago, however, I had a pulmonary embolism which went untreated and turned into pneumonia and I was super exhausted from that and suddenly lost a lot of weight and me, everyone around me and my doctors assumed it was depression cos, well, PTSD...

So, how do I tell the difference between depression, long-covid, a combination of the two, or maybe pandemic-related depression, cos the pandemic itself with lockdown and social distancing and worrying about illness, death, employment, income and everything was a depressing event, in and of itself...?

Edit to add: I'm watching a documentary about mitochondria... and it seems mitochondrial exhaustion may be involved both in depression and phenomena like long-covid... with one being a state that has more psychological symptoms, but also physical ones while the other has more physical symptoms but also psychological ones...
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There’s been a lot of research into covid even though it’s only been around a short time, and the evidence seems to suggest that Long Covid is roughly what happens to a small number of people following similar types of viral infection. Which is, it can hang around and plays havoc with a number of non-respiratory systems causing (among other things) lethargy, fatigue, brain fog, etc.

On the other side, Depression is increasingly considered to be more like a syndrome, than a single illness (in the same way that schizophrenia is an umbrella term for a big range of mental illnesses). So, not so much “I have depression” as “I have [specific type of] depression”. And like schizophrenia, we are really only scratching the surface of understanding the nuance of various different forms it comes in (like Bipolar depression, post-partum depression, seasonal depression, etc etc).

There’s actually chance that post-viral funk crosses over into a depressive type illness. And at the very least, if you’re having difficulty ascertaining which is which in yourself, a medical professional is probably going to simply take a very detailed history and give you their best guess. There’s no blood test for either!

Which may sound unhelpful, but actually, it means that you would take both seriously, and treat the symptoms as best you can with the things that appear to help the most (good diet, good sleep, regular exercise).
Many years ago, however, I had a pulmonary embolism which went untreated and turned into pneumonia
I get pneumonia a few times a year in this climate. So... by your logic... you should shut the f*ck up you disgusting lying fraud?

Cha. That's MAJOR distortion.

Just because I have a relapsing remitting tropical disease doesn't mean that OTHER people with pneumonia are lying, abusive manipulators, frauds, whingers, etc. It JUST means I've spent 20+ years learning how to deal with having pneumonia. So what's easy/normal for me? Is different than for those who are "new".

Other people? Have their lives.
We? Have ours.
How you VIEW other people's lives? Says nothing about them, and everything about you.
As usual, I only know about the difference from a sports view.

Post viral fatigue is a thing. It’s monitored quite closely in high level athletes where it can have a significant impact. There’s a whole clinic in the uk devoted to getting athletes respiratory system back into top gear if they are one of a small number having trouble after a virus.

For the average person who does low level exercise it won’t affect them to the same degree, but it can make you feel a little bit worse after a workout.

Depression has absolutely no impact on your physical ability to get up and move, it’s your mental ability that’s holding you back.

So I would say, if you are consistently working out and feeling mentally better, but nothing beyond the ordinary muscle soreness, it’s depression. If you are working out and finding that you are feeling physically a lot worse after, wheezing, tight throat, not able to keep pace, exercise asc cough etc, then that’s potentially post viral.
I think the biggest misunderstanding with covid is that it's solely respiratory whereas it is inflammatory.

Long covid often presents similar to dementia or huge issues related to blood pressure/ cardiovascular issues. I have a relative wherein her blood pressure spiked over 200 and remained that way for months. Even a good day with medication it took a long time to come down under 180 (systolic), which by definition is a medical emergergency, yet she continued to work every day. Whether that was also caused by EDS is unknown. (And EDS has only been on the radar I think about 20-25 years, and I can attest 1st hand is poorly understood in terms of what it affects and how).

From what I understand for a lot of people with long covid, the primary and most common and huge complications are with language processing difficulties and brain fog., easily mimicking dementia or even the exhaustion of fibromyalgia (which used to be considered as 'being in one's head' vs having a viral component). That alone could be scary and depressing, but lead to secondary depression too I would think. Similarly it is known heart medication (or post heart attack, it's debatable which influences it more) is frequently ssociated with major depression and what seems to be 180 degree changes in personality. So does low ;evels of oxygen (far beyond just gross fatigue). What I know for certain is that organic illness (eg cancer) often is preceded in that way. The mind and body are complex and need, at best, much time to heal. it seems cancer, arthritis and heart disease let alone covid if not dementia also have an inflammatory compoenent barely understood.

What I don't understand, is for example, NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which is treatable) is routinely mistaken for dementia, yet one characteristic is a particular shuffle walking which anyone can see. Or a person I know, treated for sleep issues only to have a heart attack (his vitals seemed fine when tested) and only then they realized he needs 4 stents (and is sleeping much better with even the 1st one). I know nothing and even I've known that for over 25 years, so I don't understand why those who know oodles don't recognize it or think of it. I also think they have no idea how long it takes to recover from long covid. As @Friday said very serious issues can be mistaken as (relatively) common conditions that should resolve quickly but can't/ won't because they aren't simple or because of other factors. I think if it's abnormal for you there are both physiological and psychological symptoms.

I hope you will be kind and gentle to yourself. As @No More said if you are experiencing physical symptoms as well it's worth noting the difference, and noting what plays off each other. (I would include respiratory ones abnormal for you, like a runny nose. Apart from sinus issues that can also be heart-related, especially after eating).
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I think it's really difficult to get clarity about Covid/Long Covid as people experience them so differently and the list of potential symptoms is so vast. So, it can be really clear to pin down what's what.

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome following a bout of glandular fever.

Some time after having Covid for the first time, I was still feeling very poorly and how I felt was very reminiscent of how I felt as a teen when I was experiencing the post-viral CFS. I ended up being diagnosed with Long Covid and being treated through a Long Covid Service.

For me, my main Long Covid symptoms were: fatigue; brain fog; muscle pain; joint pain; GI issues especially acid reflux; and some on-going respiratory issues. Other people may have radically different symptoms. And it took a toll on my mental health as well - because I think chronic illness/pain often does.

Do you still have any physical symptoms that started with having Covid?

To be honest, I'm not sure why someone experiencing depression and no other symptoms would think they had Long Covid rather than depression? (I'm not saying you are saying that for yourself necessarily - but you mentioned it in your opening post, about how many people might have depression but are calling it Long Covid)