Scientists are predicting an increase in neuropsychiatric issues as more people recover from Covid-19 but experience lingering symptoms, according to a journal Frontiers in Psychology.
In their paper, Sanjay Kumar, a senior lecturer of psychology at Oxford Brookes University, and his colleagues looked at the range of neuropsychiatric complications survivors experience, how the SARS-CoV-2 virus could cause these complications and what needs to be done about it.
A year into the pandemic, it’s clear that neuropsychiatric issues after Covid-19 aren’t rare. “Anyone can get Covid and anyone can suffer from the longer-term consequences,” said Talya Fleming, medical director of the Aftercare Program and Stroke Recovery Program at the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.
Those longer-term consequences run the gamut from mild to severe. Between 20-40% of people with Covid-19 develop headaches, dizziness, loss of smell, loss of taste, mood disturbances or strokes. Patients can also experience fatigue, anxiety and depression.
“One of the most common symptoms that patients have is this sensation of brain fog, changes in their cognition,” said Fleming. “There’s even been some reports that patients can have encephalitis or seizures.”
SARS-CoV-2 isn’t unique in its ability to affect the brain or cause lasting complications. Other infections can lead to long-term syndromes too. Kumar and his co-authors write that after the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreaks, 10-20% of those who recovered from infections reported long-term neuropsychiatric issues like depression, memory problems and fatigue. “Based on what has happened and what we’re trying to learn now, we can prepare for what might happen in the future,” said Kumar.