Neuropsychiatric Aspects of COVID-19 – A Narrative Overview

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Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2021 Aug 2. doi: 10.1055/a-1523-3850. Online ahead of print.


The SARS-CoV-2 virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Type 2) and COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) can affect numerous organ systems. In the present paper we offer an overview of the current state of knowledge about the psychiatric aspects of SARS-CoV-2 infection.Medline, Embase und LIVIVO were searched for relevant literature, the last query dating from March 2nd, 2021. Different stress factors in the context of the pandemic can lead to manifest mental illnesses. In addition, there is a risk of neuropsychological changes due to the biological effects of the virus itself.Our work describes the psychological symptoms of COVID-19 sufferers themselves and the psychological effects of the epidemic and the associated socio-economic and psychosocial stress factors on those who are not sick.The most common psychiatric complication among people with COVID-19 is delirium, while hospitalized patients seem to have an increased incidence of symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD. There are many case reports on psychotic disorders. In general, an existing psychiatric illness (especially dementia and psychotic disorders) also increases the risk of infection and of a more severe course of the disease. After recovery from COVID-19 infection, there is also a higher incidence of mental illnesses, in particular “Chronic Post-SARS Syndrome” with its manifestations such as fatigue, anxiety, depression and PTSD. In addition, the course of dementia seems to be negatively influenced by an infection with SARS-CoV-2.The second part deals with the effects of the epidemic as a stressor and the established socio-political measures on the mental health of people with and without previous mental illnesses. The literature currently available shows high symptom values for anxiety and depressive disorders as well as post-traumatic stress disorders, stress, suicidality, sleep disorders etc. Risk factors seem to include female gender, younger age and fewer resources, as well as previous psychiatric or physical illnesses. Extrinsic factors such as high infection rates, large numbers of deaths, long curfews/lockdowns, low trust in the government and ineffective measures against economic and social consequences increase the burden.

PMID:34341978 | DOI:10.1055/a-1523-3850