Doctors are seeing cases around the world where COVID-19 patients go on to develop long-term mental conditions months after being infected.
The research data of the developed world of more than a million survivors shows that 34% of patients were later diagnosed with such disorders after coronavirus. These disorders ranged from anxiety, insomnia, dementia, brain haemorrhage, to stroke.
The only sad part is that many of the disorders tend to be chronic or recurrent, which means that the gross impact of COVID-19 will unfold over many years.
Is there a difference between mental health issues and neurological disorder?
Yes, of the patients studied post Covid cure, mental health issues such as anxiety 17%, mood disorders 14%, and insomnia 5% are the most commonly diagnosed disorders.
There are cases of neurological problems post coronavirus infection too which came up as secondary causes but they are much lower at 0.6% for brain hemorrhage, 0.7% for dementia and 2.1% for ischemic stroke. It’s now known that neurological conditions are more common in patients who have had serious infection and were admitted to intensive care.
Isn’t COVID another respiratory tract infection, then why such mental disorders?
Neurological and mental health diagnoses are more common in Covid 19 patients than in flu or respiratory tract infections. That suggests COVID-19 has an impact which is unique among viral infections.
Just how COVID-19 affects the brain is unclear. But there are indications that some people suffer arterial inflammation which causes bouts of dizziness and fatigue. While more research is underway, some experts theorize that the virus may unmask or accelerate certain underlying psychiatric and neurologic conditions. In other words, it's possible that some people have underlying risk factors predisposing them to development of these conditions and the virus stresses the system enough so that these symptoms become apparent.
Sunil Kumar Kalra
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Sunil Kumar Kalra, LLB from Delhi University is a practicing
Advocate in the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi and NCDRC
Delhi. He was formerly a Vice President at Dr Reddy’s
Laboratories and Genpact LLC.