The Shocking Impact of COVID-19 on the Human Brain

COVID-19 does more than negatively impact a person’s physical health. One recent study from Oxford has proven that one in three people suffer from neurological or psychological problems as part of the pandemic’s COVID long-term effects just six months after infection.

The most common mental health disorders were:

Anxiety Disorders: Social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder

Mood Disorders: Bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder

Substance Misuse Disorders: Alcoholism or drug addiction (including opiate addiction)


People also suffer from neurological disorders, including brain hemorrhage (bleeding in or around the brain) or ischemic stroke (a blood vessel blockage that supplies blood to part of the brain). Dementia was a common problem as well.

The study’s control group consisted of 230,000 patients’ health records who were positive for the virus and, thus, more prone to the pandemic’s COVID long-term effects. Of those 230,000 people, a surprising 34 percent, or 78,200 individuals, were diagnosed with mental health issues.

But just how does a respiratory sickness lead to a mental one? Here are the shocking impacts of the pandemic’s COVID long-term effects:

Respiration and the Brain

Besides the primary symptoms of COVID infection, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, 25 percent of people experience neurological symptoms. These include dizziness, headaches, debilitating fatigue, and cognitive impairment.

While these symptoms tend to go away once someone recovers, some survivors experience lasting long-term effects. This can be explained by inflammation and leaking blood vessels in the brain. While researchers aren’t sure how these factors are related to COVID, they’re looking into a possible link. One possible explanation is the inflammation of the body’s respiratory tracts, severely limiting oxygen passage to the brain.

Respiration and the Mind

Even though most people are dealing with more mental health issues than usual during the pandemic, people who suffer from COVID experience a level of anxiety and stress not just because they are going crazy but because they want to get better.

When we are stressed or shocked, the body’s nervous system sends signals to the brain to prepare for a fight or flight. This natural bodily response causes an increase in heart rate, shortness of breath, and a feeling of anxiety until the stressor has been dealt with or has subsided.

This standard biological function works best for short-term challenges. Therefore, the increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and panic go away soon. However, COVID-19 has not become a finite, short-term problem. As seen throughout its short history, it has become an uncertain, long-term health challenge with no possible end in sight.

Thus, combined with the physical symptoms of inflammation, lack of oxygen, increased heart rates, and shortness of breath, the overall uncertainty has led to the pandemic’s COVID long-term effects on mental health.

Another study showed that COVID affected neurological and mental health more than flu or other respiratory infections. It revealed a 44 percent greater risk of neurological and mental health diagnoses after COVID than after flu and a 16 percent greater risk after COVID than respiratory tract infections.

Instead of the human body naturally increasing and decreasing stress levels due to a short-term stressor, it is in a constant state of unease and anxiety due to the seeming lack of a deadline for when COVID-19 will finally come to an end.


Thankfully, even though the pandemic affects mental health more than previously known, there are steps you can take to keep your mind and brain healthy:

Admit that uncertainty is expected.

Talk to a trusted friend about your feelings to share the burden and help each other get through this tough time.

And the most important is to get professional therapy, so you can be prescribed the proper medication (if needed) and get expertise on properly restoring brain and mental health to normal.

Schedule an appointment at Therapy24x7, where our experienced therapists can help you regain control over the pandemic’s COVID long-term effects. With three locations to serve you– Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Upper Westside–we offer therapeutic services that are affordable and accessible with appointment times to fit almost any schedule. Book your online appointment today.

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