Most people who had COVID-19 experienced a mild case of the disease. This made other people less afraid to contract COVID-19, because they started thinking that it is more of an annoyance rather than an actual health concern.
However, as this new study from UCL has shown, even mild cases of COVID-19 sometimes feature neurological and psychiatric symptoms such as fatigue and depression.
Scientists reviewed evidence from 215 studies of COVID-19 from 30 countries. They encompassed data about 105,638 people with acute symptoms of COVID-19. Scientists from all over the world tried to define the most common symptoms of COVID-19 and to see which ones are the most dangerous ones. COVID-19 is a relatively new problem and all of those studies were designed to improve our understanding on how people are affected by COVID-19.
Researchers found that the most common neurological and psychiatric symptoms were anosmia (43 %, loss of smell), weakness (40 %), fatigue (38 %), dysgeusia (37 %, loss of taste), muscle pain (25 %), depression (23 %), headache (21%) and anxiety (16%). Obviously, people who were feeling these and other symptoms the hardest sometimes had to be hospitalized. However, scientists found that even among those, who were not hospitalized, neurological and psychiatric symptoms were still common, especially fatigue, loss of smell and taste, and muscle pain.
Dr Jonathan Rogers, lead author of the study, said: “We had expected that neurological and psychiatric symptoms would be more common in severe Covid-19 cases, but instead we found that some symptoms appeared to be more common in mild cases. It appears that Covid-19 affecting mental health and the brain is the norm, rather than the exception.”
What exactly is causing those symptoms? Scientists do not know for sure. It could be the most simple explanation – inflammation and lower oxygen levels. On the other hand, COVID-19 is associated with a lot of stress as well, which means that psychological factors are at play too. The most important finding is that even those with milder cases of COVID-19 commonly experience neurological symptoms, such as fatigue and depression. Healthcare services have to be prepared to look after these people.
Even though vaccination programs are underway, COVID-19 is not going to disappear any time soon. And you need to be cognisant of that. As much as you want to be free, socialize and travel, you need to understand the risks. Even if the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection might be low, you can still experience extremely unpleasant neurological and psychological symptoms. Just be careful and stay healthy.