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7 Tips For Bouncing Back From Flu Or A Cold

Can having the flu (or even a bad cold) lead to feeling more depressed or anxious? 

Danish researchers found a correlation between mild and more serious infections that require treatment and mental illnesses, such as depression and even schizophrenia.

The findings seem to show that people treated with antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or anti-fungal drugs were more likely to develop mental illness although some related studies show that the inflammation that accompanies infections might also be an issue. The study was carried out between 1995 and 2013 on 76,398 individuals, (142,169 had a history of depression.)

Whether or not you’ve had flu or other infections this winter, don’t neglect visiting your doctor if you have symptoms such as persistent sadness, mental confusion, persistent anxiety, auditory or visual hallucinations, a disturbed sleep-wake cycle, mania or bouts of extreme energy, unmanageable/explosive anger, thoughts of self-harm or harming others, or more.

How To Bounce Back from the Flu Or A Cold

Whether you’ve taken medication or not, once your serious flu symptoms have abated, you might notice that you do feel extremely sluggish or even down. Here are some tips for bouncing back when you no longer have the flu:

  1. Air out your home, one room at a time. The old-fashioned airing out (especially on sunny days) can really kill some germs. Choose one room and open windows wide for an hour or so. If doing the bedroom, first remove all bed linens and throw them in the wash.
  2. Vaccum, Dust, Clean, Do Laundry. Cleanliness isn’t just for the sake of killing germs. Messy places (and dirty ones) are linked to depression and anxiety. Even though mess and disorganization can be signs of mental illness, it works the other way, too. Mess contributes to the stress–don’t pile stress on when you’re already feeling fragile.
  3. Start eating normally again. If you’ve had the flu, you may have had little or no appetite, or may have indulged strange cravings. Now is the time to start eating right again. Soup, protein, meat, complex carbs, healthy fats are all a necessary part of rebuilding your strength, plus, a good diet may keep depression and anxiety symptoms down. See Calm Your Anxiety With Good FoodPsychiatrists Say Nutrition Is Key To MoodWhy A New Study About Diet And Mental Health Is Important Depression, Diabetes, & Diet: Drop One, Add One, Jump Start Your Mood are just a few of the Therapy Soup posts on nutrition and emotional well-being.
  4. Consider supplementation. If you’re unsure what to take, speak to a holistic nutritionist. (Also, if you’re on medication of any kind, check with your prescribing physician to see if supplementation such as vitamins or herbs could interfere in your medication.
  5. Exercise (check with your doctor first). Start slow if you’ve been out of service for a while. But exercise absolutely improves your mood, and general mental health. See Why Aren’t Therapists Prescribing Exercise For Depression?  for one example of the power of movement.
  6. Reset your sleep clock. Set your alarm for early morning (6 or 7 am might work for you) and get out of bed. Even though you may be tired if you went to bed late the night before, getting up early may help you reset your sleep clock, so you’ll be able to get to sleep before 11 pm.
  7. Don’t be shy about asking for help. Ask friends and families to help you cope until you feel 100 percent. Whether you need help with grocery shopping, tidying up, transportation to appointments, one of the easiest things to do is often something we think of last. If you living in a more isolated situation, don’t be afraid to call city or state services.


7 Tips For Bouncing Back From Flu Or A Cold

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2018). 7 Tips For Bouncing Back From Flu Or A Cold. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Mar 2018
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