When it comes to COVID-19, many people focus on the risk of death, ignoring the many complications – some long-term – that many survivors experience after recovery. New research from Oxford Brookes University found that a significant number of COVID-19 survivors face both short- and long-term cognitive and psychiatric problems in addition to the initial disease.
The new study was an assessment of previously published research in patients with COVID-19, with the aim of determining the impact that the new coronavirus can have on brain health in survivors. The findings were worrisome, shedding light on a potentially important public health issue that could impact large numbers of people going forward.
When it comes to short-term cognitive problems, the study found that the main problems involved impaired attention, which was reported by 45% of patients, as well as memory problems, which were reported by 13 to 28% of patients.
Likewise, most patients with COVID-19 developed PTSD, and a significant percentage developed other mental health conditions, such as depression. The problems continue from there, with some patients experiencing long-term brain health problems, most of which involved fatigue and affective disorders.
In addition, up to half of the patients reported long-term memory problems and almost half reported long-term attention problems. More research is needed in the coming months, however, on the long-term impact of COVID-19 and how it can affect public health in the years to come.
Dr. Sanjay Kumar of Oxford Brookes University explained:
Understanding the neuropsychiatric and cognitive consequences of COVID-19 is important as millions of people have been affected by the virus, and many cases go undetected. These conditions affect people’s capacity to work effectively, drive, manage finances, make informed decisions and participate in daily family activities.If even just a fraction of patients experience neuropsychiatric complications, the impact on public health services could be significant.