BEYOND SIX MONTHS, WHAT are the POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF COVID-19?
By Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.
About 20% of adults experience long-term effects from COVID-19 about six months after recovery from the virus. Using a special MRI, radiologists have made this discovery (https://press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/pressreleases/14_pr_target.cfm?id=2381 ).
Neurological issues include:
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Sleep difficulties
- Sensations of pins and needles
- Changes in smell or taste
- Depression or anxiety
Even asymptomatic individuals who have had COVID-19 may have issues with their heart, lungs, or other organs. The special MRI can detect a wide range of conditions including microbleeds, malformations in blood vessels, brain tumors, and strokes.
The study included 46 patients recovered from COVID, compared to 30 healthy control subjects. The most common symptoms were fatigue, sleep issues, and difficulty with attention and memory. The specific brain areas involved the white matter in the frontal lobe, as well as the brain stem. The frontal lobe impacts the neurological issues listed above. The brain stem affects releasing hormones, relaying sensory and motor signals, and regulating the sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythms).
Longer term studies are needed beyond 6 months to see if there are any ongoing changes due to the viral infection; these studies are currently ongoing to see if the difficulties persist over time.
The results indicate that COVID-19 is not just any virus or influenza-like infection, at least for about one in five adults. This substantiates the observations within my own clinical practice and social network.
Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at dralanms#gmail.com or 310 539-2772. In-person or telehealth sessions are available.
Copyright 2022 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.