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Mental health effects from COVID-19 can be just as devastating as physical symptoms, survivors say

Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 00:01:23-04

We all know COVID-19 can deal your body a serious blow, but it can be just as harmful to your mental health.

“I’m just gonna be honest. I promise you, I wanted to die. I thought I was dying. I couldn’t even pray,” said Erika Estes.

Estes contracted COVID-19 at the end of January. She was hospitalized, developed blood clots, body aches, stomach pain and more. As her symptoms piled up, she started feeling delusional, experiencing a brain fog. She wanted to give up.

“I keep getting sicker, sicker, sicker, sicker. I didn’t think I was coming home,” she said.

Temple sports agent Patrick Arryn contracted COVID-19 in June while attending training for the New York Giants.

“Plays an effect on so many other things, such as depression, such as my sleep patterns,” he said.

During quarantine, Arryn says he didn’t experience any symptoms. After testing negative, trouble struck. For six months, he was fighting to keep his voice.

“The scariest part was me being in my 20s not being able to breathe at all. They were giving me steroid shots, they were giving me antibiotics. I was on an inhaler for two months,” said Arryn.

Last week, Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor died by suicide. His family says post-infection symptoms from COVID-19 are to blame.

Local experts say the long-haul effects of COVID-19 are real, as is the mental anguish.

“People experiencing chronic pain frequently also experience anxiety and depression. There definitely is a kind of a mind-body duality,” said Dr. Sam Fiala, assistant professor for Texas A&M University Central Texas Counseling and Psychology.

Estes and Arryn say they only overcame their mental health troubles by leaning on others.

“We are fighting for our lives. If you look at a text and it says, 'I love you,' we are praying for you or hearts. You can send something that will help us,” said Estes.

They encourage those struggling to seek counseling and or a connection with a place of fellowship, like a local church.