How COVID-19 can affect the brain

COVID-19 has been shown to affect nearly every part of the body – including the brain. A study of 1.28 million people with the disease, published August 17 in Lancet Department of Psychiatryshed light on the often complex and sometimes long-lasting effects of COVID-19 on the minds of children and adults.

Analyzing data from patients in the US and several other countries, researchers found that within the first two months after taking COVID-19, people were more likely to experience anxiety and depression. more susceptible than people with another type of respiratory infection. And until two years later, people are still at risk for conditions like brain fog, psychosis, seizures, and dementia.

Persistent COVID — marked by at least one symptom that persists for months after COVID-19 — is a growing problem worldwide. Earlier research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one in five people in the United States with COVID-19 develop the disease. This week’s study helps researchers understand more about the manifestations of long-term COVID.

The results “underline the need for further research to understand why this happens after COVID-19 and what can be done to prevent these disorders from occurring or treat them when they do,” Maxime Taquet said. , the study’s lead author and a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, in a statement.

The researchers found that the risk of poor neurological or psychiatric outcomes after Delta infection was higher than the risk after the initial variant — and comparable to the risk after Omicron infection. The effects also varied by age group. Older adults 65 years of age and older with COVID-19 experience brain fog, dementia, and psychosis at higher rates than adults of the same age with other respiratory infections.

Read more: You can have long-term COVID and not even know it

Among COVID-19 patients in this age group, 450 cases of dementia were found per 10,000, compared with 330 cases per 10,000 with other respiratory infections. Brain fog also occurs at a higher rate: there are 1,540 cases per 10,000 people infected with COVID-19, compared with 1,230 cases per 10,000 people with other infections.

The results were less dramatic for younger groups. There was little difference in dementia risk among people 64 years of age and younger with COVID-19 or another respiratory infection. As for brain fog, there are 640 cases per 10,000 people with COVID-19, compared with 550 cases per 10,000 people with various respiratory infections.

Although children are at a lower overall risk of poorer brain outcomes than adults, they are still at increased risk for epilepsy or seizures within two years of being infected with COVID-19 (260 cases in 10,000 cases) is twice as high as in children with other respiratory infections. . And while the risk of children being diagnosed with a mental disorder remains low, the study authors saw an increase in children with COVID-19 (18 in 10,000) compared with those with other respiratory infections. (6.3 out of 10,000).

Meanwhile, the risk of anxiety and depression for children with COVID-19 is no greater than for children with other respiratory infections. While mood and anxiety disorders were shown to be highest with SARS-CoV-2 infection, these risks returned to baseline after two months, followed by risk for anxiety and depression. really reduced among all age groups studied.

Study author Paul Harrison, professor in Oxford’s department of psychiatry, said: “It is good news that the diagnoses of depression and anxiety after COVID-19 are short-lived, and it is not important. observed in children”. statement. “However, it is worrisome that some other disorders, such as dementia and seizures, continue to be more diagnosed after COVID-19, even two years later.”

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