What Is Post-Viral Syndrome?

Also known as post viral fatigue syndrome

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Post-viral syndrome, or post-viral fatigue, is the enduring fatigue and other flu-like symptoms that can occur after fighting a viral infection. Post-viral syndrome isn’t a new condition, but recently it has become increasingly associated with post-COVID-19 syndrome, also known as long COVID.

Read on to learn about symptoms of post-viral syndrome, which viral infections can cause post-viral syndrome, and how to cope with symptoms. 

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Post-Viral Syndrome Symptoms

The most common post-viral fatigue syndrome symptom is chronic fatigue that lasts no matter how well you sleep. 

Post-viral syndrome is also associated with the following symptoms:

  • Widespread muscle pain (myalgia)
  • General weakness
  • Depression
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Joint pain
  • Lingering or persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Cognitive fatigue (i.e., mental tiredness or mental exhaustion)
  • Brain fog or difficulty thinking


Post-viral syndrome may be caused by inflammatory damage done during a viral infection. Anyone can experience this reaction to an infection. 

One meta-analysis from 2020 suggests people with COVID-19 infection are at higher risk of experiencing post-viral fatigue syndrome than those who have had other common viral infections, including Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Q-Fever, and Ross River Virus (RRV) infections.

Other viral infections associated with post-viral fatigue syndrome include:


Diagnosis of post-viral fatigue syndrome may come after speaking about your ongoing symptoms after infection with your healthcare provider. You can help the process by keeping a symptom list and timeline and bringing it to your healthcare provider. If possible, it may be helpful to have someone in your household help with keeping track of symptoms and bringing up timelines for medical appointments.

You’ll likely be asked some additional questions about mental health. Anxiety and depression can cause fatigue as a symptom, too. Your healthcare provider will determine if routine blood testing would be beneficial to rule out other underlying conditions.


There’s no clear timeline for recovery from post-viral syndrome. Your prognosis will depend on factors, including the viral infection you had and other health considerations that may impact your recovery. 

How Long Does Long COVID Last?

It’s still too early to determine what the prognosis is for people experiencing long-haul COVID.

Many people with COVID recover within weeks while others live with disabling fatigue and general feelings of sickness for months afterwards.


Coping with post-viral fatigue syndrome is possible but is also uniquely challenging. After all, it’s not something we’re shown how to prepare for. No matter your age or activity levels before the infection, when your body resists doing what it once could, or when it won't bounce back after illness, it can also take a serious toll on mental health. Studies have shown a connection between chronic fatigue and severe depression.

It's frustrating adjusting to ongoing symptoms, especially when there's no clear end in sight and when symptoms may not be obvious to others who expect you to be well again.

Depression and Fatigue

Coping with depression from post-viral syndrome can include taking steps to increase mindfulness.

The premise behind mindfulness for post-viral syndrome is that strengthening your ability to cope with perpetual exhaustion and unpleasant sensations and feelings will reduce negative reactivity and emotional suffering.

Ways of practicing mindfulness include:

Pacing is also key for dealing with fatigue issues. Individuals must find their limits and work not to push themselves too hard to avoid worsening symptoms.

Support Group for COVID-19 Survivors

Survivor Corps provides information about post-COVID care and hosts a Facebook page that connects COVID-19 survivors.


Post-viral syndrome or post-viral fatigue syndrome is when someone experiences persistent fatigue and other flu-like symptoms after fighting a viral infection. Symptoms can contribute to depression. While temporary, post-viral syndrome can be debilitating, and there’s no clear timeline for recovery.

Coping can be made a little easier with mindfulness practices, including solo activities like yoga or more formal coping strategies like talking with a mental health professional can help fight off depression. Having a strong support network also helps in recovering from post-viral fatigue syndrome.  

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ceban F, Ling S, MW Lui L, et al. Fatigue and cognitive impairment in post-COVID-19 syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2022;101:93-135. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2021.12.020

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Long COVID or post-covid conditions

  3. Moldofsky H, Patcai J. Chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, depression and disordered sleep in chronic post-SARS syndrome: a case-controlled study. BMC Neurol. 2011;11:37. doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-37

  4. Townsend L, Dyer AH, Jones K. Persistent fatigue following SARS-CoV-2 infection is common and independent of severity of initial infection. PLoS One. 2020;15(11):e0240784. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0240784

  5. Greenhalgh T, Knight M, A'Court C, Buxton M, Husain L. Management of post-acute covid-19 in primary care. BMJ. 2020;370:m3026. doi:10.1136/bmj.m3026

  6. Griffith JP, Zarrouf FA. A systematic review of chronic fatigue syndrome: don’t assume it’s depressionPrim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2008;10(2):120-128.

  7. Hofmann SG, Gómez AF. Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression. The psychiatric clinics of North America. 2017;40(4):739–749. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.008

  8. American Psychological Association. Overcoming depression.

  9. The Harvard Gazette. With mindfulness, life’s in the moment.

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment of ME/CFS.

By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.