Why COVID-19 Effects On Brain Occur — And Linger
Studies in Germany and the United Kingdom show that 20%-70% of COVID-19 patients experience neurological and psychiatric problems months after other symptoms have subsided.
A recent review in the journal JAMA Psychiatry explains some of the ways the virus might affect the brain.
COVID-19 can cause or exacerbate brain fog, anxiety, depression, psychosis, seizures and suicidal behavior.
Because the symptoms do not stem from respiratory problems, experts believe they arise due to inflammation, clotting or a kind of micro-stroke.
Although there are ways SARS-CoV-2 might enter the brain and damage it directly, evidence for this occurring is lacking.
But chemical signals from cytokine storms can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation and shifts in key brain chemicals, possibly altering learning, memory and neuroplasticity, and causing hallucinations and nightmares.