You have certainly heard of people who have to deal with persistent symptoms even after COVID-19 is cured . But, it seems, another problem may affect some of the survivors of the disease: depression.
In one study, researchers interviewed more than 3,900 people who had COVID-19 between May 2020 and January 2021 and found that 52% of respondents suffered from symptoms of depression .
In addition, the survey found that young, male participants who had a severe case of COVID-19 were the most likely to experience depression. The study came out on March 12 in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.
The study’s lead investigator, Roy Perlis, said people who contracted COVID-19 may have symptoms of depression for many months after the onset of the disease.
Perlis is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and associate head of research in the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital .
cause and effect relationship
However, Perlis highlighted that the pandemic generates chronic stress and a loss of socialization that in themselves are a recipe for depression and anxiety. This can affect a person even if they have not been infected with the new coronavirus.
“This observation reinforces the importance of understanding whether this (depression) is an effect of COVID-19 itself. Or if it is simply (the result of) the stress of dealing with the pandemic and an acute illness”, pointed out the professor of psychiatry.
Even because the study did not prove that there is a cause and effect relationship between COVID-19 and depression. It is possible that participants who reported having depression already had symptoms before contracting COVID-19.
At the same time, it is possible that they took longer to recover from depression after getting COVID-19 or that they were people at higher risk of contracting the new coronavirus.
In any case, for neuropsychologist Brittany LeMonda, the research findings are interesting. This is because specialists are still understanding the psychiatric and neurological manifestations of COVID-19.
If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression after taking COVID-19, contact a psychologist you trust.
The relationship of depression to other symptoms
Previous studies have found a link between depression and loss of smell and taste in patients who have had COVID-19. However, research by Perlis and his colleagues did not identify this relationship.
The study found an association between headaches over the course of the illness and increased risk of depression. But they pointed out that it’s possible that people with depression were more likely to report having a headache when they were sick.
In turn, LeMonda stated that having a headache during the course of the infection, but not having other symptoms, was an independent factor for depression.
According to the neuropsychologist, people with a history of headache and physical symptoms, such as pain or weakness, are more likely to suffer from psychiatric symptoms.
She explained that there are preexisting factors that can predispose a person to headaches during COVID-19, while putting them at greater risk of developing depression after the illness.