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VERIFY: What we know so far about how COVID-19 can affect the brain

A new study released by the University of Oxford explained that 1/3 of people who recover from COVID-19 may have brain issues.

WASHINGTON — Can COVID-19 affect your mental health? 

A new study from the University of Oxford in England claims it does. The results show one in three people who recover from COVID-19 may have some issues with their brains.

WUSA spoke with one of the researchers from the study. He explained COVID-19 infections do more than just cause breathing and respiratory issues: it can also cause brain issues.


What do we know, so far, about how COVID-19 affects the brain?


 This six-month study shows that 1/3 of people who had the virus diagnosis ended up with a psychiatric or neurological diagnoses afterwards.  

Our Sources:

 This University of Oxford study on neurological and psychiatric implications for COVId-19 infection.

  Dr. Masud Husain, a neuroscience expert from the University of Oxford who worked on the study. Dr. Tae Chung, a neuromuscular expert from Johns Hopkins University.

What We Found:

“The purpose of the study was to find out if there were any neurological or psychiatric consequences of having had COVID,” Dr. Husain said.

To find out if COVID-19 affects the brain, Dr. Husain and his colleagues looked at 236,379 people who recovered from COVID-19.

“The headline from that work is that over a third of people had some kind of neurological or psychiatric diagnosis after the COVID diagnosis,” Dr. Husain explained.

But how?

Dr. Husain breaks it into two categories. The first is psychiatric issues:

“17% of people who had COVID ended up with a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, a little less than that ended up with a diagnosis of a mood disorder, like depression,” he said.  “5% had insomnia.”

The second category was neurological issues. According to the study, around 2% of patients suffered a stroke. Less than 1% were diagnosed with dementia.

The study found that the psychiatric diagnoses were seen in a variety of COVID-19 survivors. That meant patients with mild cases up to severe cases were diagnosed with these issues.

However, the neurological issues were mostly seen in severe cases.

“The most important thing here is that COVID isn't something just that just affects the lungs, it also affects the brain,” Dr. Husain said.

While the evidence may sound shocking, Dr. Tae Chung said brain issues from viruses is common.

“Actually the any virus, even just regular flu and common cold or flu viruses can cause a variety of different neurological issues,” Dr. Chung said.


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