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Reblogged:'Long Covid,' or Something Else? Yes.

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Writing at STAT, pulmonary and critical care specialist Adam Gaffney comments on a need for a more careful and critical discussion by reporters of so-called "long Covid," for which there is "no universal definition."

Perhaps most interesting are three paragraphs that note the similarities between the lingering problems some patients appear to suffer, and clinical depression:

Image by Hassan Vakil, via Unsplash, license.
Still, even if these ailments are sometimes acknowledged in media reports of long Covid, most narratives evoke something entirely different: a debilitating syndrome seemingly affecting multiple organ systems for months on end -- and perhaps indefinitely -- but without any specific diagnosis such as myocarditis or stroke. It is also notable that reports often suggest that even those with only mild acute symptoms -- or no acute symptoms at all -- are at risk. [links omitted, bold added]
And later:
Why does this matter? For one thing, if some proportion of long Covid patients were never infected with SARS-COV-2, it shows that it's possible for anyone to misattribute chronic symptoms to this virus. That's not particularly surprising, since the symptoms of acute SARS-CoV-2 are often not unique, and can be caused by other respiratory infections. But what's more notable is that the late-December survey also found virtually no difference in the long-haul symptom burden between those with and without antibody evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (or any positive test), which undercuts the likelihood of a causative role for SARS-CoV-2 as the predominant driver of chronic symptoms in that cohort.


... Positing a potential link between psychological suffering and physical symptoms is at times derided as medical gaslighting. But there's no question that mental suffering can produce physical suffering. A New England Journal of Medicine report showed that, across multiple continents, about half of people with depression also had unexplained physical symptoms, which often predominated over their mental ones. Sleeping problems, physical and mental slowing, persistent fatigue, and concentration problems (aka "brain fog") are among the actual criteria for major depression in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). [format edits, bold added]
Clearly, our news media, with its propensity for sowing panic and spinning tidy narratives, risks confusing the public about actual long-term effects caused by Covid and causing large numbers of people to fail to seek appropriate treatment for the effects of the year of psychological trauma they have undergone, for starters.

I am grateful to Dr. Gaffney for separating the wheat from the chaff in this latest of many examples of poor pandemic journalism.

-- CAV

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