A new study has shown that long Covid, described as persistent symptoms of the disease that last more than four weeks after initial infection, may be linked to self-perceived cognitive difficulties such as memory problems.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) noted that over one in three people experiencing long Covid symptoms perceived cognitive deficits, which were found to be related to anxiety and depression, according to PTI. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
For the study, the researchers surveyed 766 patients who had confirmed symptomatic Covid infection and had either been hospitalised at UCLA or one of 20 healthcare facilities in the US or were referred to the programme by a primary care physician and been treated as outpatients, according to PTI. The results showed that 276 of the surveyed patients perceived, during the acute illness or the following weeks, that they had cognitive difficulties.
The findings showed that psychological issues such as anxiety or depressive disorders may contribute to some people experiencing long Covid. "This perception of cognitive deficits suggests that affective issues—in this case anxiety and depression—appear to carry over into the long COVID period," said study senior author Neil Wenger, a professor at UCLA in a press statement. The findings indicate that it is likely that for some proportion of patients, there is a component of anxiety or depression that is exacerbated by the disease, Wenger added.
The study also found that people with long Covid were twice as likely as those without perceived cognitive deficits to experience physical symptoms at 60 and 90 days according to PTI.
A 2022 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients infected with Covid, many of whom, including those with mild disease, have reported deficits in attention, executive functioning, language, processing speed, and memory — which are collectively referred to as “brain fog.” The findings have also linked it to increased incidence of anxiety, depression, sleep disorder, and fatigue.