MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — For months research has shown how the COVID-19 virus affects the brain, causing infected patients to experience memory loss, difficulty sleeping, and problems focusing. But now, patients who have never had COVID are experiencing the same symptoms. Ivanhoe has details on why this is happening and what can be done to stop it.
Marco Trochez wasn’t caught off guard when he was diagnosed with bipolar disease.
“My dad is bipolar 1. He has bipolar 1 disorder and my sister has bipolar 3 disorder,” explained Trochez.
But what did catch him off guard was COVID-19.
“That sort of brought to me this kind of depression, anxiety, and this like fogginess,” Trochez continued.
He was also unable to sleep, was restless, and had problems focusing. Arthur Bregman, MD is a psychiatrist at Bregman Medical Group and said many of his patients who have never had COVID are experiencing what he has coined COVID psych brain. With COVID causing everyone’s anxiety levels to be elevated, “People’s cognitive function are disconnected and they’re foggy,” stated Dr. Bregman.
This can even cause memory problems. Dr. Bregman said people can find relief with the three R’s. The first is relationships.
“Go talk to a friend. Take a break,” shared Dr. Bregman.
Keeping a routine promotes good mental health. Set aside a particular time for work and exercise. The last R resilience, or the ability to bounce back, can be achieved by maintaining routines and relationships. But if the symptoms are severe …
“Those people may want to see a therapist,” said Dr. Bregman.
Marco works with his therapist on his COVID psych brain and is feeling much better now.
“Awareness, meditation helps a lot,” exclaimed Marco.
Giving himself and his pup, Pi, peace of mind.
Dr. Bregman said people who already have other mental conditions, such as anxiety or depression are more prone to COVID psych brain.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and, Judy Reich, Videographer.
DO YOU HAVE COVID BRAIN?
BACKGROUND: Brain fog is a type of cognitive dysfunction which involves memory problems, lack of mental clarity, poor concentration, and the inability to focus. Some people also describe it as mental fatigue. Sometimes, the severity of brain fog can interfere with work or school. Chronic stress can cause mental fatigue. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus. Poor sleep quality can also interfere with how well your brain functions. Sleeping too little can lead to poor concentration and cloudy thoughts. Hormonal changes can also trigger brain fog and affect memory and cause short-term cognitive impairment. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, brain fog may develop after eating certain foods like MSG, aspartame, peanuts, or dairy. Brain fog may be a known side effect of some medications. And, medical conditions associated with inflammation, fatigue, or changes in blood glucose level can also cause mental fatigue.
BRAIN FOG AND COVID: The term “brain fog” is one that more and more experts are using to describe a cluster of neurological symptoms that a lot of people who have had COVID-19 go on to experience for months after first being infected. These symptoms include memory and concentration problems, a general lack of sharpness, headaches, poor sleep, anxiety, and other lingering symptoms that seem rooted in the brain. A study published in the Journal of Infection, reported on a group of doctors who followed up with 120 former COVID patients three months after hospital discharge. They found around 1 in 3 said that memory loss was a persistent issue, and 28% said they still had problems concentrating. Another report, published by researchers at Indiana University, surveyed more than 1,500 COVID patients, and they were still experiencing concentration and memory. One of the leading explanations for brain fog and other lingering COVID-related brain symptoms involves the immune system’s reaction to the infection. “When the immune system gets revved up in response to a virus, there could be a cytokine explosion in the brain that does all types of damage,” says Leonard Jason, PhD, a professor of clinical psychology and director of the Center for Community Research at DePaul University. “So the immune system has the hit, and then it does the structural damage to the brain.”
STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME BRAIN FOG: Psychologist, Dr. Yvonne Thomas, PhD, explains that pandemic brain fog is caused by living through a period of intense, on-going stress and unknown variables that impact every single moment of our lives. There are some strategies that she says can help break through the exhaustion. Movement is essential not only to our physical health but our mental and emotional well-being. During this time, it’s vital to work in some exercise, even 30 minutes a day, to keep your brain happy. Prioritizing mindfulness by blocking time to meditate, practice deep breathing, and other soothing tactics can help. By doing this, we force ourselves to live in the present moment, helping to eliminate other thoughts and worries. If you can’t seem to boost your own creativity or get out of a funk, Thomas says seeking a therapist who specializes in work-related issues can be beneficial. “With the pandemic causing or exacerbating emotional issues which already existed for a person, it is important for him or her to properly deal with one’s feelings and become knowledgeable of healthier ways to better cope,” Thomas said.
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Marla Oxenhandler, Public Relations
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