Emotional and psychological impact of Long Covid on the family

We asked people with Long Covid and those living with people with Long Covid about the emotional impact it has had on their wider family. This section covers:

  • Impact on parents
  • Impact on children
  • Impact on partners

A key message from those we spoke to was that it impacts the whole family and not just the person with Long Covid. Lucy B is a young person with Long Covid. She says, “one of the biggest things is understanding that it impacts the whole family and not just the person who’s been unwell.”

Impact on parents

The emotional impact on parents when their child was ill with Long Covid was described as “horrendous”, “heart-breaking” and “traumatic”. Colin, whose daughter has Long Covid, explains, “when your child is suffering and you can’t alleviate it in any way, you just feel pretty hopeless.”

Parents talked about being so worried about their child, feeling “very stressed” and “hopeless” and “grieving” for the person they were before they became unwell, or for the childhood they have lost.

Lucy B has Long Covid. She says her mum feels like she’s grieving and didn’t expect to see her 32-year-old coming home and having to be cared for.

Francesca says the whole experience with her daughter’s Long Covid has taken a huge toll on her mental health. She’s frustrated that Long Covid in children is not taken more seriously.

Daisy says her Long Covid is having a profound impact on her parents’ mental health. She thinks their mental health has been impacted more than hers.

When relapses occurred as they did for Jake and Bella it was “really hard emotionally to deal with.”

Impact on children

Heather wasn’t sure if her children were that stressed or worried by her having Long Covid, but some other parents with Long Covid thought there had been an emotional or psychological impact on their children. Maria said that her three-year-old daughter asks every day, “are you better yet, Mummy?”

Lily’s daughter really worries about her having Long Covid. She thinks there needs to be more recognition of how Long Covid can impact the whole family.

Heather’s children ‘rose to the occasion’ while she was most unwell. She’s not sure how they felt emotionally.

Kate is worried about how her own Long Covid is affecting her 7 year old son. He is starting to mimic some of the language she’s using, like being ‘exhausted’, and needing ‘to rest.’

Kate thinks her son has started using language that he’s picked up from her. She says that he’s not the “happiest” child he was before Covid.

Siblings were also affected emotionally from having a brother or sister with Long Covid. Richard and Colin said their other children were “terrified” of bringing Covid home from school or their other activities. Richard’s daughter felt angry at other kids at school who didn’t take Covid seriously. Sasha’s young children were very upset when they realised how unwell their sister was but she says that being so young the worry passes.

Impact on partners

Partners of people with Long Covid were impacted emotionally. Lindsey says “it’s really challenging” and “horrific” at times having a partner and child with Long Covid but she feels guilty for having these feelings. Helen explains that her husband, who’s a doctor, found it “very difficult” that he could not “fix me.”

Richard and his son have Long Covid. It’s been really hard on Richard’s wife and daughter. He says his wife struggles to cope when he gets “impending doom” like symptoms.

As well as causing emotional stress to the wider family, people spoke about the impact Long Covid has had on the broader lives of family members, with many not feeling able to engage in activities they used to enjoy and look forward to.

Catherine finds it especially emotionally hard when her son has a relapse. She doesn’t have a social life anymore as everything is taken up by her son’s needs.

Paul has Long Covid. He says he’s trying to turn a negative situation into an opportunity to improve his quality of life. He wants to prioritise his own health and well-being and that of his wider family.

Paul says he’s trying to “build back in a more balanced way,” for the well-being of himself and his wider family.