Therapist describes frustrating journey for long-haul COVID patients

As mask mandates are lifted and society starts to look more normal again, people who have been suffering from “long-haul” COVID-19 are feeling even more scared and frustrated as their condition remains at a standstill, according to a therapist who wrote a book analyzing the issue.

“People are experiencing really significant symptoms long after their active infection has left,” said Dr. Joseph Trunzo. “It’s been well over a year for some people and they’re still feeling very sick and not at all back to themselves.”

Some of the more common long-haul symptoms include extreme fatigue, prolonged respiratory problems, difficulty concentrating, chronic pain, depression and anxiety.

“Medically, nobody really knows what causes it or how to treat it or deal with it,” Trunzo said. “Patients don’t feel like they know where to go or who they can turn to.”

In his book, Long Haul COVID: A Survivor’s Guide, Trunzo urges patients to focus on “acceptance and commitment therapy,” which emphasizes acceptance as a way to deal with negative situations.

Through that therapy, often referred to only as “ACT,” patients are encouraged to identify things in their lives that are meaningful and important. It helps make sure that they are living in the moment, rather than being concerned about the future or ruminating about the past.

“It’s an ideal way to manage things when you don’t feel like you have a lot of control in your life,” Trunzo said. “It helps you make sure you are engaged in behaviors that are value-driven and meaningful for you.”

The book includes the story of Julie Luongo, a COVID-19 patient who developed significant cardiac problems weeks after she initially became sick.

Luongo then had prolonged fatigue and stamina issues after that.

“It took her awhile to get back to herself,” Trunzo said. “She tells her story of how she used acceptance and commitment therapy techniques to improve her life while she was suffering with her symptoms.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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