COVID-19 has proven 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 Psychiatrysheds light on the often complex, and sometimes long-term, effects of COVID-19 on the minds of children and adults.
By analyzing data from patients in the United States and several other countries, researchers found that during the first two months of infection with COVID-19, people were more likely to develop anxiety and depression than people who had a different type of respiratory infection. And for up to two years after that, people remained at increased risk of conditions such as brain fog, psychosis, seizures, and dementia.
Long-term COVID disease – characterized by at least one symptom that persists for months after COVID-19 – is a growing problem worldwide. earlier Research The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately one in five people in the United States who develop COVID-19 develop it. This week’s study is helping researchers understand the manifestations of the prolonged COVID illness.
Maxime Taquet, the study’s lead author and a senior official, said the findings “highlight the need for further research to understand why this occurs after COVID-19, and what can be done to prevent these disorders, or treat them when they do occur.” Research fellow at the University of Oxford, in A statement.
The researchers found that the risks of poor neurological or psychological outcomes after a delta injury were higher than the risks after injury to the original variant — and about the same as the risks after an omicron. Effects also differed by age group. Older adults aged 65 and over who had COVID-19 experienced brain fog, dementia, and psychotic disorders at a higher rate than adults of the same age who had other respiratory infections.
Among COVID-19 patients in this age group, 450 cases of dementia were found per 10,000 people, compared to 330 cases per 10,000 people with other respiratory infections. Brain fog occurred at a higher rate, too: There were 1,540 cases per 10,000 people with COVID-19, compared to 1,230 cases per 10,000 people with other infections.
The results were less dramatic for the younger groups. There was little difference in the risk of developing dementia in people aged 64 or younger who had either COVID-19 or another respiratory infection. For brain fog, there were 640 cases per 10,000 people with COVID-19, compared to 550 cases per 10,000 people with various respiratory infections.
Although children were less likely to have poor brain outcomes than adults, they were still more likely to develop epilepsy or seizures within two years of being infected with COVID-19 (260 cases in 10,000 cases) than children with other respiratory infections. And while children’s risk of developing a psychotic disorder remained low, the study authors noted an increase among children with COVID-19 (18 in 10,000) compared with children with other respiratory infections (6.3 in 10,000).
Meanwhile, the risk of anxiety and depression was no greater for children with COVID-19 than for those with other respiratory infections. While mood and anxiety disorders were shown to peak during SARS-CoV-2 infection, these risks returned to baseline after two months, followed by the risk of anxiety and depression. actually dropped Among all ages studied.
“It is good that the increased incidence of depression and anxiety after COVID-19 is short-lived, and that it is not observed in children,” said study author Paul Harrison, professor in the Oxford Department of Psychiatry. statement. “However, it is worrying that some other disorders, such as dementia and seizures, likely continue to be diagnosed after COVID-19, even two years later.”
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