- The medical issue includes feelings of “distress and an impaired sense of reality,” according to NBC News.
NBC News interviewed one woman who lost her husband to psychosis. Her husband was hospitalized for COVID-19. But then he acted differently when he came home. He was continually scared and panicked.
- “He was just not himself,” she told NBC News.
- Her husband would pace around the house, walking from window to window. He received anti-anxiety medication. But days after he returned home from the hospital, he died by suicide.
How COVID-19 psychosis works
- A similar issue impacted people during the 1918 flu pandemic where an infection hurt people’s brains.
Dr. Vilma Gabbay, a co-director of the Psychiatry Research Institute at Montefiore Einstein in the Bronx, New York, told News 18 that COVID-19 affects your brain because of how your body’s immune system reacts to the virus.
- “Some of the neurotoxins that are reactions to immune activation can go to the brain, through the blood-brain barrier, and can induce this damage.”
We’ve heard about COVID-19 psychosis before
The New York Times reported in December that a small percentage of COVID-19 patients reported severe psychotic symptoms after they were infected by the coronavirus — even though they had never had mental illness before.
Per The New York Times, one woman began imagining dark thoughts about her children.
- “It’s a horrifying thing that here’s this well-accomplished woman and she’s like ‘I love my kids, and I don’t know why I feel this way that I want to decapitate them,’” Dr. Hisam Goueli, who works at South Oaks Hospital in Amityville, New York, told News 18.
Is there research about COVID-19 psychosis?
Yes. As I wrote for the Deseret News, there was a British study that found 10 out of 153 hospitalized patients who had COVID-19 had “new-onset psychosis.” A second study out of Spain found a similar issue there.
What can you do if you know someone with COVID-19 psychosis?
Health officials advise those in need to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.