Fear plays a big role in corona times. Fear of the virus, of the disease, of isolation. But a previous infection with Sars-CoV-2 can also evidently lead to fears. According to a study published in the journal “The Lancet Psychiatry”, corona patients have neurological or psychological problems more often than people with other respiratory diseases. The risk of anxiety disorders or mood swings is therefore 44 percent higher than after the flu.
For their study, researchers led by psychiatrist Paul Harrison from Oxford University evaluated the digital data of more than 236,000 US patients, including more than 62,000 people with Covid-19. They examined how often those affected suffered from psychological or neurological problems in the 14 to 90 days after diagnosis.
For comparison, they checked how often people developed psychological or neurological problems after being infected with influenza viruses or with another respiratory disease. “Our results show that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders occur more frequently after Covid-19 than after the flu,” said co-author Max Taquet from Oxford University. Even compared to other respiratory diseases, the risk of Covid-19 infection was 16 percent higher.
Five percent had trouble sleeping
The most common symptoms that occurred after Covid disease were feelings of fear, they occurred in 17 percent of those affected. Mood disorders affected 14 percent and sleep problems 5 percent. Neurological diseases developed significantly less often: Two percent of those affected suffered a stroke from a blood clot and 0.6 percent suffered a stroke from a cerebral haemorrhage.
According to the results, as the severity of the disease increased, so did the risk of psychiatric or neurological consequences. While at least one mental or neurological disorder was subsequently observed in 34 percent of all Covid-19 patients examined, such complaints occurred in 46 percent of all intensive care patients.
The investigation is an observational study that cannot prove any causal relationships. The participating scientists therefore point out that further research is necessary in order to identify possible causes and prevent or treat consequential damage.
Dame Til Wykes, Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College, London, told the UK BBC: “The study confirms our fears that a Covid-19 diagnosis is associated not only with respiratory problems, but also with psychiatric and neurological problems.
The extent to which the virus directly attacks the brain is the subject of numerous studies around the world. Doctors continue to research causes in the immune system, both at the molecular level. Effects on the blood and coagulation system are also known . In addition, there are consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorders , which doctors say are also increasing.
Connection between neurological diseases and infection
There have already been studies in the past that have seen a connection between neurological diseases and infection. But also due to the consequences of isolation as a result of lockdowns and quarantines, sick leave due to mental illness has risen. In Bavaria, the analysis of insured person data showed that in 2020 people with depression and anxiety were significantly more likely to be absent from work than before.