COVID-19 patients experiencing psychosis months after recovery

While the extent of post-COVID side effects aren’t yet entirely understood, another alarming trend has come up. About 20-25% of patients are getting a psychosis diagnosis months after recovery.

In previous reports, we’ve heard that the lungs, heart, kidneys can possibly experience long-term side effects.

“Why it’s affecting everything we don’t know that, of course,” said Dr. Asim Shah, chief of Psychiatry at Ben Taub Hospital.

Shah said he sees this happening among the patients he treats, some only in their 30s.

“Post-COVID depression, anxiety, insomnia, psychosis, sometimes cognitive issues,” Shah said. “Maybe 20-25% of people suffer.”

It’s important to seek help if you feel any of these symptoms. Finding treatment options is getting easier as we get deeper into the pandemic.

Some hospitals even have “post-COVID clinics.”

“Post-COVID clinics are basically a clinic with a multidisciplinary team. Meaning you have a psychiatrist, you have a neurologist, you have a cardiologist, you have a rheumatologist, you have a pulmonologist, so you have all of those things,” Dr. Shah explained. “COVID can affect all systems, so you have a multidisciplinary approach so that everything is looked at more carefully.”

When should you go to one of those clinics?

“Once you are discharged and you see any new onset of symptoms. Whether there is pain in your hands, issues with your kidneys, heart, psychological depression, anxiety, medical issues, please see initially your primary care doctor,” Shah said.

Your primary care doctor can help you treat any complications or refer you to one of these clinics.

Some health professionals may tell you that a stay in the hospital or some medications could create these kinds of psychosis events.

Shah said it is true that steroids (the main treatment for coronavirus) can cause a psychotic episode. However, he said that normally happens while you’re taking the steroid or a few days after, but they are seeing this in patients three, four, five months after recovery.

Do the 20-25% of patients who get a psychosis diagnosis have a previous history of mental health issues?

No, that’s one of the biggest mysteries.

Doctors are now working to determine why this happens to young patients who have no prior history.