Neuropsychological symptoms refer to changes in cognitive functions and mental processes, rather than physical symptoms.
Neuropsychological symptoms of COVID-19 can include: #
- Cognitive impairment: Some individuals may experience difficulties with attention, memory, or executive functions (such as decision-making and problem-solving).
- Brain fog: Brain fog, or a feeling of mental confusion or disorientation, is a common neuropsychological symptom of Long-COVID (see below).
- Mood changes: COVID-19 can cause changes in mood, such as anxiety, depression, or irritability.
- Sleep disturbances: Individuals with COVID-19 may experience sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or vivid dreams.
- Fatigue: Many individuals with COVID-19 experience fatigue, even after recovering from the acute phase of the illness.
- Reduced motivation and energy: Some individuals may experience a reduction in motivation and energy, making it difficult to engage in activities or tasks.
These neuropsychological symptoms can impact individuals’ quality of life and ability to function and may persist even after recovery from the acute phase of COVID-19. Where they persist, they may be referred to as Long-COVID, post-acute-COVID or “COVID Long Haulers“.
Risk factors for developing Long-COVID #
It is currently not fully understood who is most likely to suffer from Long-COVID. However, there are certain factors that may increase the likelihood of experiencing Long-COVID, including:
- Age: Older adults appear to be at a higher risk for developing Long-COVID.
- Severity of acute illness: Individuals who had a severe case of COVID-19, as determined by hospitalisation, oxygen support, or ICU admission, are more likely to develop Long-COVID.
- Chronic health conditions: People who have underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, appear to have a higher risk of Long-COVID.
- Female gender: Women appear to be at a higher risk for developing Long-COVID.
- Immune response: Individuals who have a stronger immune response to the virus may be at a higher risk for developing Long-COVID.
It is important to note that anyone who has had COVID-19 can develop Long-COVID, regardless of these risk factors. Further research is needed to fully understand the risk factors for Long-COVID.
Further reading #
Biagianti, B., Di Liberto, A., Nicolò Edoardo, A., Lisi, I., Nobilia, L., de Ferrabonc, G. D., Zanier, E. R., Stocchetti, N., & Brambilla, P. (2022). Cognitive Assessment in SARS-CoV-2 Patients: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 14, 909661. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2022.909661
He, S., Wu, K., Cheng, Z., He, M., Hu, R., Fan, N., Shen, L., Li, Q., Fan, H., & Tong, Y. (2022). Long COVID: The latest manifestations, mechanisms, and potential therapeutic interventions. MedComm, 3(4). https://doi.org/10.1002/mco2.196