A small number of patients with COVID-19 are experiencing severe psychiatric symptoms after recovering from the virus.
The New York Times reports that many doctors have seen psychiatric symptoms in the recovery of COVID-19 patients who previously had no recorded history of mental illness.
Studies in the UK and Spain have found that a very small number of hospitalized coronovirus patients have developed “new-onset psychosis”, which coincides with anecdotes similar to those from the Midwest, according to the Times notes.
The Times did not speak to any patients who had psychiatric symptoms, but some physicians were allowed to describe their cases to their patients.
In New York, a 42-year-old mother constantly saw her children being murdered and said that she heard voices to kill her children and herself. In New York City, a 30-year-old man tried to strangle his cousin after being convinced that they were planning to assassinate him. A 49-year-old man described the sounds of hearing and considered himself a devil.
The doctor, who was treating Hisam Gowli, a 42-year-old mother, told the Times that the cases were unique due to the patients’ self-awareness as a result of a decline in their mental health.
“People with psychosis do not have an insight that they have lost touch with reality,” Gowley said.
Goueli also said that it was unusual that most of these patients were in their 30s and 40s. According to the physician, the symptoms that were described to patients were often attributed to schizophrenia in young people or dementia in the elderly.
Experts have stated that the viral effect on the brain may be due to a response to the immune system or even to the physical symptoms that patients experience.
Wilma Gabbay, co-director at the Psychiatry Research Institute of Montefor Einstein (PRIME), said, “Some neurotoxins that are reacting to immune activation can travel to the brain via the blood-brain barrier, and induce this damage. can do.”
Experts spoke to The Times, agreeing with Gabbay’s assessment, saying that a sustained immune response after a patient is recovered can have an effect on the brain, although symptoms may depend on whether the brain Which area is affected.
“Some people have neurological symptoms, some are psychiatric and many have a combination,” Robert Yolken, a neurovirology professor at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times.
The Times notes that similar cases were seen in previous viruses such as the 1918 Spanish Flu, SARS and MERS. Although the mechanism through which these symptoms are brought about is not well understood, experts told the Times that studying these patients may help to better understand the psychosis.
The period in which patients suffer from psychosis is not certain. One patient, described in Times Peace, was recovered within 40 days, while the other was reportedly battling mental symptoms for more than two months, even after hospitalization.