Study: 1 In 3 COVID Survivors Suffers 'Brain Disease'

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 

A new study points to disturbing neurological symptoms in COVID survivors

While your crazy aunt on Facebook insists that COVID-19 is “just like the flu,” science keeps proving that nonsense terrifyingly wrong. The latest scary info to come from studies about the virus? One in three people who have COVID and survive it are left with longer-term neurological symptoms and mental health issues.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, found that 34 percent of COVID survivors eventually received a diagnosis for either a neurological or psychological condition. It happened within six months of being infected with the virus. Seventeen percent of those studied were diagnosed with anxiety and 14 percent were diagnosed with mood disorders. Those statistics represent the most common neurological symptoms found in the study.

The researchers do note that hospitalized patients are found to have more severe symptoms but they were found in patients who only received outpatient treatment as well.

Maxime Taquet, an academic clinical fellow in psychiatry at the University of Oxford, and a co-author of the study says, “That rate increased progressively as the severity of the Covid-19 illness increased. If we look at patients who were hospitalized that rate increased to 39 percent.”

“Our results indicate that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after Covid-19 than after flu or other respiratory infections, even when patients are matched for other risk factors. We now need to see what happens beyond six months,” Taquet said.

The study was large — more than 236,000 COVID patients participated.

It was found that overall, 44 percent of study participants were at increased risk for neurological and psychiatric illness compared to people recovering from the flu. Patients were 16 percent more likely to have the symptoms than those who have other respiratory tract infections.

It is important to note that COVID doesn’t seem to increase risk for every type of neurological condition. “Two important negative findings were related to parkinsonism and Guillain-Barré syndrome,” Taquet explains. “Both of those conditions are neurological conditions that we know are sometimes associated with viral infection. We did not find that they were more more common after Covid-19 and after the other respiratory tract infections that we looked at.”

Dr. Musa Sami, a clinical associate professor in psychiatry at the University of Nottingham, said in a statement that the study is worthy of note simply because of its scope. “This is a robust piece of work in a large cohort demonstrating the association between Covid-19 and psychiatric and neurological complications,” he said in a statement. “This is a very important topic as there has been considerable consternation regarding Covid-19 as a ‘brain disease.'”

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