COVID: 7 out of 10 Ugandan survivors suffer from Anhedonia


Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  Many COVID-19 survivors lose interest in the things they used to like, clinicians have revealed. As of February 22, 2021, Uganda had registered 14,478 COVID-19 recoveries countrywide.

However, doctors say that 70 percent of the survivors lost interest in life, a condition referred to as Anhedonia in medical terms while others lost their appetite. Others felt fatigued all the time while some others gained weight. Health workers that URN spoke to said that even after recovering, life isn’t the same for the COVID-19 survivors for at least two weeks after being discharged.

Dr. Hasfa Lukwata, a mental health expert who is providing COVID-19 psychological care says the majority of the patients they have seen stop enjoying the things they liked doing even after recovery. 

“We have seen that many face this problem. A month after their recovery, they struggle to go back and do the things they enjoyed before. They feel weak, are not happy and do not want to do anything, “she said. Another side effect that might present is the loss of appetite.   

According to doctors, COVID-19 patients especially those who lost their sense of smell and taste lack appetite when they recover. A study published in the medical journal, JAMA Network Open last week cited fatigue and loss of smell as the most common long-lasting effect on COVID-19 survivors. 

A small survey carried out by URN showed that six out 10 COVID-19 survivors experienced fatigue for at least two weeks after testing negative for the disease. Other symptoms included chest pain, irritation in the throat and general body weakness.

Dr. Bruce Kirenga, a Lung expert and COVID-19 clinician says most of the side effects felt by COVID-19 survivors are a result of what the virus does to the human body. He, however, says that some of the effects like shortness of breath and body weakness are still a puzzle to medics.   

Dr. Rose Byanyima, the Deputy Executive Director at Mulago National Referral Hospital and head of the COVID-19 Treatment unit, says some of the side effects like chest pain and weight gain might be as a result of the medication and not the disease.

“Some patients who have needed assisted breathing will be weak even when they are discharged. Their bodies are weakened by disease. Also, some patients gain weight due to some of the medication,” she said.

According to Byanyima, the use of some COVID-19 treatment such as dexamethasone, which is a steroid, can lead to fluid buildup in the body that leads to weight gain, especially in the face.

Due to the lack of follow up clinics, documentation of side effect is hard, according to doctors. They say the little they know is from patients who get in touch with them to complain about persisting issues. 



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