The consequences of COVID-19 can be not only loss of taste and smell, necrotizing encephalopathy, or other cognitive disorders but also delayed diseases, experts warned. The fact is that, according to scientists, the infection is capable of causing severe mental disorders (in particular, schizophrenia) in children born to recovered mothers. So far, this is only an assumption, but doctors recommend monitoring the condition of recovered women and babies for a long time.
Effect on the nerves
Specialists from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego analyzed a list of possible complications after COVID-19 affecting the central nervous system (CNS). In their article, they suggested that the long-term consequences, the descriptions of which appeared after various epidemics – the Spanish flu, SARS, and MERS – would be similar to the effects of the new coronavirus on the organisms of people who had recovered.
The researchers conclude that the problem requires further careful study, and call on the biomedical community to monitor neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with Wuhan pneumonia throughout their lives. Scientists talk about the need to monitor the condition of those who have suffered from the disease “in utero, in childhood, adulthood and later in life, to fully assess and stop the long-term harmful effects of COVID-19 on the brain and behavior.”
Information on neurological complications
The neurological complications of coronavirus are still poorly understood. They can appear in the acute period of infection. Moreover, they can drag on, that is, they do not arise immediately, but some time after the infection go away.
This was the case, for example, during the First World War. Then humanity was faced with a new disease, which proceeded like severe flu, but at the same time, people fell into hibernation. It was called lethargic encephalitis. And then, after a few years, those who had such flu developed Parkinson’s syndrome, that is, degenerative changes in the brain occurred. Today, no one knows if the transferred coronavirus will become another impetus for the development of serious brain diseases in the future. Let’s hope for the best.
Patients with COVID-19
There is little data on mental illness in COVID-19 patients. However, studies of previous coronavirus epidemics suggest that many COVID-19 patients will exhibit mental symptoms and disorders. An example is a systematic review of psychiatric problems in patients hospitalized for SARS or MERS (60 studies, n> 2500 cases). During an acute infection, approximately 20-40% of patients show neuropsychiatric symptoms corresponding to delirium:
- insomnia – 42%
- impaired attention or concentration – 38%
- anxiety – 36%
- memory impairment – 34%
- depressed mood – 33%
- confusion of consciousness – 28%
- altered consciousness – 21%
Healthcare professionals treating patients with COVID-19 are at risk of developing mental symptoms and disorders (see ‘Healthcare professionals’ above). They are likely to benefit from the opportunity to speak privately to mental health professionals who can pay attention to the sources of anxiety, stress, and other emotions associated with patient care. However, healthcare providers may be reluctant to participate in such treatment due to fears of stigma and problems with licensing, certification, and career advancement.
Mental health professionals treating mental illness in advanced clinics should lookout for potential sources of anxiety, depression, stress, and trauma, including:
- Access to personal protective equipment and concerns about being reprimanded for speaking out about a lack of funds.
- High SARS-CoV-2 infectivity and risk of exposure and infection.
- Risk of infection to family members and others.
- Physical distancing from the family.
- Access to testing for yourself and family members.
- Enforcement of workplace infection control procedures.
- Uncertainty due to lack of COVID-19 treatment recommendations.
- Carrying out unfamiliar clinical responsibilities with insufficient training.
- Interventions for COVID-19 that are limited to supportive care rather than treatment per se.
- Access to child care during school closings.
- Increased and debilitating workload.
- Moral dilemmas and trauma, such as how to allocate scarce resources, not expose others to danger, and the need to implement clinical decisions that, in their own opinion, are contrary to best practice.
- Feelings of isolation from patients and their families due to personal protective equipment and physical distancing.
- Difficulty providing emotional support to patients.
- Loss of control, burnout, vulnerability.
- Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and guilt for being sick, not helping your colleagues, and infecting others.
- Physical distancing, loneliness, and isolation from colleagues and supervisors, as well as family and friends.
- Social stigma due to exposure to disease.
Numerous patients dying alone and their grief-stricken family members. We encourage doctors to talk to these families about their loved ones. In addition, the American Psychiatric Association provides guidelines for physicians to assist healthcare providers who treat patients dying from COVID-19.
Understanding the neuropsychiatric and cognitive impairments associated with COVID-19 is especially important as it concerns the mental health of millions of people, while the number of victims of the infection continues to grow. Doctors believe that all patients who have undergone COVID-19 should be further examined and tested to assess attention, learning, memory, and information processing speed. Also, according to doctors, it is possible to plan the appropriate neuropsychological support for rehabilitation and correction of cognitive impairments in victims of COVID-19.
Now you have learned everything about the Neurological and Neuropsychiatric Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic thanks to our article. Be vigilant and don’t get sick.