AUSTIN, Texas — March 11 marks four years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. While many people have been diagnosed, treated and are doing better, others have long COVID and are still struggling weeks, months and even years after their initial infection.

Nearly 18 million Americans report having long COVID since the pandemic began. Fatigue, brain fog and dizziness are the most common symptoms. They can linger for months or years after a COVID infection. 

Mason Marriott-Voss has had long COVID for seven months. Here’s how he says it’s affected his health.

“There’s the physical side of it where the symptoms you’re physically experiencing are going to make you predisposed to these things, and then there’s the emotional real-world side of it where your life conditions have changed. I used to love to dig in the dirt and plant things and go ID the insects that I was finding in the garden and I can’t do that, not in the way that I used to,” Marriott-Voss said.

Mason added a few things are as they used to be. He said what is most frustrating is that he still has long COVID while others have recovered and returned to their normal routine.

“Everyone else really wants to move on and say the pandemic happened and is no longer happening, but that’s not true for millions and millions of folks and it can leave you feeling forgotten. It leaves you feeling like you don’t matter to anyone else,” Marriott-Voss exclaimed.

That despair is in part why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued an advisory warning that long COVID can have “devastating effects on the mental health of those who experience it," stemming from the illness itself, social isolation, financial insecurity, caregiver burnout and grief.

While there is no cure for long COVID, you can treat the symptoms. Treatment may include medication to manage the physical symptoms and psychotherapy to address the mental and emotional symptoms of long COVID. Group therapy to build a sense of community among people dealing with it may also be beneficial.