Struggling to manage fatigue even long after your COVID-19 infection? A study has found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) reduces post-viral fatigue in people who suffer lingering symptoms after COVID-19.

Fatigue can be a reduction in the efficiency of force generation that can be measured as a weakness during a physical examination or a subjective sensation reported by patients. A patient who complains of fatigue may be experiencing weakness, dyspnea, difficulties in concentration, somnolence, or low mood, according to the study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.

Post-viral fatigue, on the other hand, is when a person experiences an extended period of tiredness and feels unwell long after a viral infection.

Long-COVID or Post-COVID Syndrome

Some people experience long-term health issues after a COVID-19 infection. Called long-COVID or post-COVID syndrome, the condition comes with a wide range of ongoing health problems that last for weeks, months, or even years.

Anyone with a COVID-19 infection can experience long-COVID. However, those who get a serious infection are at a higher risk of being affected by it.

The most common symptoms include fatigue, fever, cough, shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, sleep difficulties, dizziness, headache, brain fog, loss of smell and taste, depression and anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Improved Symptoms

In the study, researchers in Amsterdam, Netherlands, found that long-COVID patients who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy showed marked improvements in fatigue and concentration.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psychological treatment that involves talk therapy with a mental health counselor. It is considered an effective tool for treating a range of issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. CBT is used either alone or in combination with other therapies.

"After behavioral therapy, patients not only had fewer symptoms but also functioned better both physically and socially. Those improvements were still present even after six months," Hans Knoop, lead researcher of the study, said.

The treatment focuses on reducing fatigue by dealing with the symptoms of each patient differently.

"Together with patients, we look, for example, at how they can improve their sleep-wake rhythm. We also help them become more active again with small, safe steps. For example, by going for short walks," Knoop added.

However, researchers said the success of behavioral therapy does not mean that all causes of post-COVID symptoms are psychological. The treatment may not be effective for all patients. Hence, they recommended further studies to understand the physical causes behind post-COVID syndrome and the use of other effective treatments.

"Cognitive behavioral therapy also appears to be a safe treatment. Our research shows that the symptoms did not worsen, and new symptoms arose less often," Knoop added.

Some Covid-19 survivors are experiencing long-term side-effects including fatigue and pain. Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels