"Long COVID is Not Anxiety," but that Was an Early Hypothesis

Long COVID is now recognized as real, in the medical community and in Washington, DC, but 2 years ago it was a different story, says AAPM&R's Steven Flanagan, MD.

"...early on, there was some sense that people who had COVID and were recovering were simply anxious...and legitimately they should be anxious given all they've been through. But long COVID is not anxiety."

This is part of the answer Patient Care© received from Steven Flanagan, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (APPM&R) in response to a question about whether there is now widespread acceptance in the medical community and beyond that long COVID is real. There is, he reassures, and adds that "we're in a different place than we were 2 years ago." He explains more in this video conversation.


Steven R. Flanagan, MD, is president-elect of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Chair, Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Grossman School of Medicine Medical Director, Rusk Rehabilitation, New York University Langone Health, in New York, New York. (Twitter: @flanagan_RUSKmd)


Flanagan is a passionate spokesperson for the Academy's successful and ongoing campaign to educate Congress and federal leaders on the very real constellation of symptoms known as post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) or, long COVID. Beyond providing education, APPM&R and a multidisciplinary collaborative have called for a large-scale, coordinated federal response to long COVID's vast impact on US health, on the ability to work, and for some, on the ability to function at all. The advocacy is making a difference:

The Biden White House in April 2022 pledged its commitment to research on long COVID and to multidomain care for Americans living with the symptoms; the Department of Health and Human Services in August 2022 issued a report titled Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19, reflecting the president's calls to action; and there are bills centered on resources to address long COVID now circulating in the House of Representatives and the Senate.