ATLANTA — Researchers are discovering that some long-hauler symptoms from coronavirus are psychiatric. That includes things like anxiety and depression.
The study published in Lancet Psychiatry looked at data from tens of thousands of people who got COVID-19. It found that six months after getting the virus, one in three people had psychiatric or neurological illness.
“We’ve been hearing a lot about long-haulers. What we haven’t been hearing enough about in my opinion as a child/adolescent psychiatrist are the neuro/psychiatric symptoms,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, psychiatrist and past president of the American Medical Association.
Harris told Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge that initially it was thought coronavirus was primarily a respiratory illness affecting the lungs.
Over the past year it’s been clear it can impact many different parts of the body.
“We’ve seen strokes. Now we see anxiety disorders, mood disorders. Some of my patients talk about a brain fog, not being able to think clearly and feeling like they’re in slow motion,” Harris said.
The study found that for one in eight patients, it’s the first time they got anxiety or depression.
Harris said no one is sure why and that hopefully more studies can help answer that.
She stressed that anxiety and depression are treatable and urges people not to feel like they’re the only ones experiencing it.
“What we will have to tease out and learn more about is the effects on the body. Is this some inflammatory response that’s happening and that will help us treat this,” Harris said.
She urges people who had COVID-19 and now are experiencing some of these symptoms to reach out to their health care providers.
The study looked at more than 200,000 COVID-19 patients.
When they compared to people who had the flu, there was a 44% higher chance of neurological and mental health issues among those who had COVID-19.