Brain scans, cerebrospinal fluid scans and other tests revealed no brain infection, said Dr Gabbay, whose hospital treated two patients with post-Covid psychosis: a 49-year-old man who heard voices and who believed he was the devil. and a 34-year-old woman who has started carrying a knife, undressing in front of strangers, and putting hand sanitizer in her food.
Physically, most of these patients did not get very sick from Covid-19, according to reports. The patients treated by Dr Goueli had no respiratory problems, but they had subtle neurological symptoms like tingling in the hands, dizziness, headache or decreased odor. Then, two weeks to several months later, he said, they “develop this deep psychosis, which is really dangerous and scary for everyone around them.”
It is also striking that most of the patients were in their thirties, forties and fifties. “It’s very rare that you develop this type of psychosis in this age group,” said Dr Goueli, as such symptoms more commonly accompany schizophrenia in young people or dementia in older patients. And some patients – like the physiotherapist who took her to the hospital – realized that something was wrong, while generally “people with psychosis don’t know they’ve lost touch with reality.” .
Some post-Covid patients who developed psychosis needed weeks of hospitalization during which doctors tried different medications before finding one that helped them.
Dr Robert Yolken, an expert in neurovirology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said that although people can physically recover from Covid-19, in some cases their immune systems might be unable to shut down or stay engaged because of “delayed elimination of a small amount of virus.”
Persistent immune activation is also a major explanation for the brain fog and memory problems plaguing many Covid survivors, and Emily Severance, a schizophrenia expert at Johns Hopkins, said the post-Covid cognitive and psychiatric effects could result from “something similar in the brain”.