People who have had a Covid-19, especially those in whom the disease was more severe, have a higher risk of depression or dementia starting 6 months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2. The risks were greater.
This information, published in “The Lancet Psychiatry,” could help in planning and identification of the priorities for the management of people who have suffered a Covid, point out the researchers from the University of Oxford, Oxford (United Kingdom).
According to this work, almost a third of the people who have had Covid developed or had a relapse of a psychological or neurological condition.
Although those who were in the hospital or in intensive care had a even higher risk.
The causes? The study suggests that both stress and virus they can have a direct hit.
This team from the University of Oxford scientifically analyzed the electronic medical records of more than half a million US patients, and they also evaluated their chances of developing psychological or neurological disorders such as dementia, anxiety, depression, brain hemorrhage, Parkinson’s, psychosis.
Of all of them, the study showed that anxiety and mood disorders were the most common diagnosis among people who had suffered a Covid, although they point out that the most likely cause was the stress of the experience of being very ill or being taken to hospital, researchers say.
However, other consequences, such as stroke and dementia, it is possible that they were due to the biological impacts of the virus itself, or the body’s reaction to the infection in general.
The researchers warn that this is an observational study so it is not possible to say that Covid-19 was responsible for these diagnoses, and it is possible that some of these people had a stroke or depression in the six months after their diagnosis. Covid-19 regardless of the disease.
However, when they compared a group of people who had had Covid-19 with two other groups, one with the flu and the other with respiratory infections respectively, they concluded thatCovid-19 was associated with more neurological problems than other respiratory diseases.
For example, people who suffered from Covid-19 were 16% more likely to develop a psychological or neurological disorder at 6 months than after other respiratory infections, and 44% more likely than people who had they were recovering from a flu.
Also, the sicker the Covid patient had been, the more likely they were to receive a subsequent diagnosis of mental health or brain disorder.
Mood, anxiety, or psychotic disorders affected 24% of all patients, but increased to 25% in those admitted to the hospital, 28% in those in intensive care, and 36% in those in intensive care. people who experienced delirium while ill.
Strokes affected 2% of all Covid patients, increasing to 7% of those admitted to the ICU and 9% of those with delirium.
And dementia was diagnosed in 0.7% of all Covid patients, but in 5% of those who had experienced delirium as a symptom.
“There is evidence that the virus enters the brain and causes direct damage,” explains Masud Husain of the University of Oxford.
But it can also have other indirect effects; Thus, for example, by affecting blood clotting, it can cause strokes and the general inflammation that occurs in the body when it responds to an infection can affect the brain.
For just over a third of people who develop one or more of these conditions, this was their first diagnosis. But even when it was a recurrence of a pre-existing problem, the researchers said this did not rule out the possibility that Covid had caused the disease.
The researchers conclude that this type of study can only show associations and that prospective cohort studies will be needed to identify mechanisms and assess causality.