The coronavirus pandemic has spread all over the world, wreaking havoc in its wake. This has led to fear, worry, stress, and anxiety in the population at large.
Since the onset of this pandemic, researchers are still discovering newer ways in which the virus impacts people. Earlier, it was believed that COVID-19 could impact some mildly, whereas others severely, depending on whether the patient had other pre-existing conditions. This virus was found to have affected the respiratory system, digestive system, etc. It was also found that some of these symptoms could last beyond treatment. However, newer studies have now unearthed a new complication in survivors of the coronavirus.
Researchers at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy found that a significant portion of patients suffering from COVID-19 showed signs of mental illness a month after treatment.
The study was conducted on 402 patients, 265 men, and 137 women. A month after treatment, these patients were examined at the hospital. Based on clinical interviews, it was found that 55% percent of the survivors had at least one psychiatric disorder. This included Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 28%, depression in 31%, anxiety in 42%, insomnia in 40%, and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms in 20% of the observed.
COVID-19 and The Brain
Apart from the study, scientists have also pointed out the impact COVID could have on the brain. The symptoms can be categorized into three categories, manifestations of the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and skeletal muscular injury manifestations.
The manifestations of the central nervous system include dizziness, headache, ataxia, seizures, and impaired consciousness.
The manifestations of the peripheral nervous system include impairment of taste and smell, vision impairment, and nerve pain.
Who Can Get Affected
The study also showed that although women are less likely to die from COVID-19, they fared worse than men psychologically. This is believed to be because of the different functioning of the immune system.
Moreover, people who had a prior positive psychiatric diagnosis were more likely to develop mental health symptoms after recovery. These results were not surprising, as studies of previous coronaviruses had also shown increased instances of mental health issues in survivors.
Younger patients have shown higher levels of depression. It has also been found that the duration of hospitalization is also correlated with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
How does it happen
There are a few ways in which the virus can affect the mental health of patients.
One way is when the virus attacks the nervous system. The virus may have the capacity to enter the brain and cause a sudden infection. The virus may also have the capacity to interrupt blood flow and nervous functioning, leading to events like strokes.
Another possibility is when the virus triggers an immune response. This could add to the psychological stress of facing a disease, and to stress-induced inflammation. The patient’s stress could also be worsened by the fear of illness, stigma, social isolation, traumatic memory of severe illness, etc, leading to psychological conditions in the future.
PTSD, depression, and anxiety are all non-communicable conditions that are associated with a reduced quality of life. According to scientists, the impact of the pandemic isn’t limited to survivors of the disease. Health experts have already warned about a second pandemic of psychological disorders, associated with fear of the disease and stress.
Originally posted 2020-08-10 06:24:27.