Confusion and delirium can develop during the acute period of the disease in patients with COVID-19, and in the long term, the development of depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD is possible, follows from a study by British scientists published in the journal Lancet.
The previous influenza pandemics were associated with long-term neuropsychiatric consequences, so it is possible that other viral infections on a large scale can cause persistent mental illness … Our goal was to study the two previous coronavirus epidemics, SARS and MERS, to identify possible psychiatric and neuropsychiatric consequences for the current pandemic. We also looked at early data on COVID-19.Lancett article.
Scientists analyzed 72 studies that included data on an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, and the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection.
According to the study, a systematic review showed that during the acute period of the disease, common symptoms among hospitalized patients with SARS and MERS included confusion (36 of 129 patients), depressed mood (42 of 129), anxiety (46 of 129), memory impairment ( 44 out of 129) and insomnia (54 out of 129). In the post-disease phase, discharged patients often reported depression, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, memory impairment, fatigue, and sleep disorders. A meta-analysis of studies showed that in the post-disease phase, the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder was 32.2%, depression – 14.9%, anxiety disorders – 14.8%.
Available data on patients with COVID-19 in severe cases of the disease indicate the development of delirium, or a mental disorder accompanied by confusion, impaired attention, perception, thinking and emotions. So, one study showed that confusion occurred in 26 (65%) of 40 patients in the intensive care unit, and an excited state in 40 (69%) of 58 patients in the intensive care unit. In another study, confusion was observed in 17 (21%) of 82 terminally ill patients.
If SARS-CoV-2 infection occurs similarly to SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV infection, most patients should recover without mental illness. SARS-CoV-2 can cause delirium in a large proportion of patients in the acute stage. Doctors should be aware of the possibility of developing depression, anxiety, fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder and more rare neuropsychiatric syndromes in the long term.the authors of the study.
At the same time, the authors noted that the number of such studies on patients with COVID-19 is limited, so a more detailed description of possible mental disorders is currently not possible.