Research shows there may be a link between COVID-19 and the symptoms of depression. Here’s why it happens.
Whether you’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19, experienced financial difficulties, or had a hard time adjusting to all the changes, the pandemic likely impacted you in some way. If you feel like you’re living with depression resulting from all of this, you’re not alone.
Between 2020 and 2021, diagnoses of anxiety and depressive disorders jumped from 36% to 41%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But are these symptoms of depression a result of external factors only, or is depression a residual effect of the disease? So far, the research is pointing toward both.
Mental health symptoms of COVID-19
Scientists are learning more about the new coronavirus every day. But, for now, there’s limited information about the long-term effects of COVID-19.
But there’s some indication that there may be a link between the disease and symptoms of depression.
One study suggested that the coronavirus indirectly creates blood clots, which can cause brain damage.
Another study suggested that our body’s immune system could indirectly be injuring brain cells while fighting the virus. Indeed, increased inflammation in the body is linked to depression.
The coronavirus’s effect on the brain increases the risk for mental health challenges. About 1 in 5 people will develop a mental health condition 14 to 90 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. For 5.8% of patients, it will be their first one.
Mental health symptoms that developed as a result of COVID-19 also seem to persist 6 months after recovery.
There also appears to be a link between COVID-19 symptoms and common symptoms of depression. For example, the loss of taste and smell were associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms.
More recent research is starting to link depression with COVID-induced headaches. For example, a study published this year found that people with COVID-19 were at a higher risk for depressive symptoms when they reported headaches. Depressive symptoms were also more likely among younger adults than older adults.