"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

COVID brain fog linked to mood disorders and long-COVID risk

May 8, 2023 – A history of hysteria or depression increases the likelihood of experiencing brain fog within the weeks following a COVID infection, a brand new study from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests.

The researchers also found that folks who experience brain fog in the primary 4 weeks after infection were more prone to experience it as a long-term symptom within the context of a long-COVID diagnosis. They were also more prone to experience other physical long-COVID symptoms.

The studypublished last week in JAMA network open, The study included 766 individuals with a median age of 60 who had a confirmed COVID infection between April 2020 and February 2021. Of the 766 people, 36% reported that their pondering skills were impaired inside 4 weeks of infection. Compared to individuals who never had cognitive problems, they were twice as prone to still report these problems 60 and 90 days later, respectively.

The researchers reported cognitive problems comparable to difficulties in organization, difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness. Among the people within the study:

  • 30% said that they had problems with the organization.
  • 29% reported difficulty concentrating on activities comparable to watching television or reading a book.
  • 26% said that they had forgotten what that they had discussed during a phone conversation.

Women were more likely than men to report cognitive problems after a COVID infection. Thinking difficulties were more common amongst participants aged 40 to 59 than amongst younger participants.

“This perception of cognitive deficits suggests that affective problems – in this case anxiety and depression – appear to carry over into the long COVID period,” said study writer and UCLA professor Neil Wenger, MD, MPH, in a opinion.

Affective disorder is a clinical term for a mood or psychiatric disorder.

“That's not to say that Long COVID is all in the head, but it's probably not an isolated disease and some patients probably have an anxiety or depression component that's exacerbated by the disease,” Wenger said.