According to a Dutch study, published on August 5, 2022 in the scientific journal The Lancetone in eight people would be affected by a persistent form of Covid-19.
While there are many research studies that attempt to identify the symptoms of long Covid, fewer are those that look at the predispositions to developing a long-lasting infection.
Published Wednesday, September 7, 2022 in the magazine Science Dailya study by scientists at Harvard University School of Medicine argues that depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness “may be considered risk factors” for the development of a Covid long.
“We were surprised to note that psychological distress, detected before an infection, is associated with an increased risk of presenting a long Covid“, said Pr Siwen Wang, researcher at Harvard Chan School, in her study.
Psychological distress and long Covid: a 46% increased risk
To conduct this research, the Harvard University team asked 55,000 people in the United States and Canada to complete an online survey, between April 2020 and November 2021.
Of this group, more than 3,000 participants reported having had Covid, and approximately 1,400 reported having long Covid.
The results thus showed that people who reported psychological distress before being infected had a 46% increased risk of developing a long form of Covidcompared to people who did not report depressive or anxious symptoms.
People who noted “two or more types of psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety, had a 50% increased risk of keeping at least one symptom of their infection”, specify the researchers.
Suppression of the immune response as a possible explanation
According to Pr Siwen Wang, certain factors would make it possible to establish a link between psychological distress and the development of a long Covid.
“First of all, stress can activate molecules that signal the body to produce inflammation. Stress can also lead to a suppressed immune response, making it harder to fight off viruses. People with depression can even develop antibodies that mistakenly target their own cells,” she explains.
“A mental health problem will always be more likely to predispose you to later health problemswhether it is the Covid, a long Covid [ou] of another disease”, supports Jacqueline Becker, neuropsychologist at the Icahn School of Medicine (who did not participate in the study) with NBC News.
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Towards mental health care as a treatment for long Covid
If this advance makes it possible to establish a direct link between stress and the long Covid, the authors of the study stress however that other research is necessary to know if the management of the stress can help to reduce the risk of presenting a Covid. long, and if taking care of the mental health of affected patients can help relieve the ills of lingering infection.
“If you are already suffering from long Covid, but are maintaining low levels of stress, will this help you recover faster? We don’t know. focus now”, continues Andrea Roberts.
The scientists also point out that future research will need to be perpetuated to a wider audience, as most of the people interviewed in this study worked in the medical sector at the height of the pandemic. “This is why their stress level could be higher than that of the general public”, nuances the study.
Long Covid: the people concerned could develop neuropsychiatric symptoms two years after their contamination