Should we beware of the next mental health surge? Since the COVID-19 pandemic made us experts on the issue, we all know it’s a respiratory disease. Though that’s 100 % true, in the long-term it doesn’t seem to be completely right. Your brain also suffers and you could be a COVID-19 patient for up to 6 months, concerning mental health. These symptoms are identified as a long haul COVID-19 and include a variety of lingering long-term health issues.
While recovery after coronavirus is a process, we overlook a lot of the consequences our body copes with.
Being a survivor and returning from the hospital is a huge achievement, though the battle remains. The so-called ‘long haulers’ express multiple difficulties and describe a wide range of cardiovascular health issues. A few studies over the past years already urged on extending the interdisciplinary care and support for their COVID-19 patients. Many recovered COVID-19 patients describe they have troubles in memorization and concentration. Plus they find it hard to remember things and are easily exhausted, comparing their previous daily activity. As far as the researches go, we can now recognize SARS-CoV-2 as a multi-organ disease. It’s also stressful that a long hauler can be not only a hospitalized patient with mild to severe COVID-19, but the one that doesn’t need ICU and is at-home treatment.
The most common post-acute COVID-19 symptoms are chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, even insomnia, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and dementia. What’s most intimidating, children who had COVID-19 don’t have the insurance of not suffering from one of those, too. The cognitive challenges, expressed due to the damages SARS-CoV-2 does to the heart, kidneys, lungs and a whole range of organs, are now defined as a ‘brain fog’.
What does a professional behavioral neurologist say?
The cognitive & behavioral neurologist Andrew E. Budson says in his column for Harvard Health Blog says. He also gives some advice on sleep hygiene, exercising, participating in social activities, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Though going back to normal can be quite a difficult experience, reading a novel, listening to music, and other cognitively stimulating activities. The specialist urges a healthy diet, because stressful situations may occur, due to the present pandemic outbreak. Thinking of how COVID-19 affects the brain, it’s now getting more obvious so many patients struggle with the loss of smell or taste. So, should we really beware of the next mental health surge? Dr. Gabriel Erausquin, a professor of neurology at the University of Texas recently published a paper on the subject.
By attacking nose olfactory cells, the SARS-CoV-2 virus gets straight to the brain. This happens by reaching the olfactory bulb and moving just next to the hippocampus. So that’s exactly how tracking the inflammation explains both the loss of taste/smell and cognitive decline in so many susceptible individuals.
What do studies say?
A recent study of Lancet Psychiatry journal also found some amazing links. In regards to COVID-19 survivors and a higher risk of developing a mental illness. The analysis included 69 million people in the United States, with more than 62,000 cases of COVID-19. The results came to conclude that 1 of 5 had his first diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Those who had pre-existing mental issues before were 65 % more likely to become COVID-19 patients, compared to those without.
While much more data appears to be collected so far, a new study by the same team took place on 6 April 2021. As led by Paul Harrison of the University of Oxford, it tracked the outcomes of more than 236,000 COVID-19 patients, mostly in the USA. It triggered most accurately on 14 mental health disorders and found 34 % of them were diagnosed with such disorders in the 6 months
after being infected with the coronavirus. Although it was a first-time diagnosis for 13 %, for most of them, it tended to become chronic. As more specific, it found anxiety (17%), mood disorders (14%), substance abuse disorders (7%), and insomnia (5%). Fortunately, serious neurological conditions were less common, such as 0.6% for a brain hemorrhage, 2.1% for ischemic stroke, and 0.7% for dementia.
It also stressed the fact that as severe the COVID-19 symptoms are, as greater the risk of developing psychiatric and neurologic illness is. It’s more important what happens after these 6 months. But it requires additional research, with a view to preventing or treating them.
Nowadays, we divide time between before and after the pandemic. If we had already experienced enough stress in the past, during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak it’s getting more powerful. Long haul COVID-19 and people dealing with it worldwide is tremendous and it’s constantly rising. Though mental health is a part of a bigger picture, it’s important that we focus on the consequences of the coronavirus survivors.