Neurological and psychiatric symptoms are common in COVID-19 infections
A recent meta-analysis looked at 215 studies from 30 countries and found that neurological and psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety are common in patients, and are found as much or more in mild cases as in acute cases requiring hospitalization.
Loss of sense of smell and taste, weakness, fatigue and muscle pain were the most common symptoms, but depression (23%), headaches (21%) and anxiety (16%) were also noted. The studies did not contain enough information to determine the causes of such symptoms, but researchers speculate that inflammation in the brain may account for some of them, as well as psycho-social effects like isolation that are unique to the pandemic.
Considering the huge numbers of people worldwide who have been affected by COVID 19, even relatively rare symptoms may have an outsized impact and should be taken into account by care providers and public health planners. Mental health services will need to be prepared for people suffering from these problems after even mild COVID 19 infections.
Rogers JP et al. Neurology and neuropsychiatry of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the early literature reveals frequent CNS manifestations and key emerging narratives. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2021; jnnp-2021-326405 DOI: 10.1136/jnnp-2021-326405
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