The effects of the coronavirus do not end when patients "leave the hospital," Wes Ely, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Stat News. And one of the ways COVID-19 appears to linger in recovered hospitalized patients is its effect on neurological and psychological well-being — Stat reports as many as 1 in 3 recovering patients could experience after-effects in those areas.
This "COVID fog" makes patients feel like they "can't think," writes Stat. Since the early days of the pandemic in China and Europe, clinicians have described patients who continue to suffer from things like nerve damage, cognitive impairment, depression, and anxiety after their release. It's unclear if and when those folks will see their conditions improve, but experts are using their experience treating other pathogens and delirium after Intensive Care Unit stays, using results from brain autopsies and interviews with patients to get a sense of what's really going on.
"We would say that perhaps between 30 percent and 50 percent of people with an infection that has clinical manifestations are going to have some form of mental health issues," said Teodor Postolache, professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "That could be anxiety or depression, but also nonspecific symptoms that include fatigue, sleep, and waking abnormalities, a general sense of not being at your best, not being fully recovered in terms of the abilities of performing academically, occupationally, potentially physically." Read more at Stat News.