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Radek Ptacek, Hana Ptackova, Anders Martin, George B. Stefano
(Department of Psychiatry, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic)
Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e930340
Alterations in complex behavioral patterns during the extended period of the COVID-19 pandemic are predicted to promote a variety of psychiatric disease symptoms due to enforced social isolation and self-quarantine. Accordingly, multifaceted mental health problems will continue to increase, thereby creating a challenge for society and the health care system in general. Recent studies show that COVID-19 can directly or indirectly influence the central nervous system, potentially causing neurological pathologies such as Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease. Thus, chronic COVID-19-related disease processes have the potential to cause serious mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Importantly, mental health problems can foster systemic changes in functionally-linked neuroendocrine conditions that heighten a person’s susceptibility to COVID-19 infection. These altered defense mechanisms may include compromised “self-control” and “self-care”, as well as a “lack of insight” into the danger posed by the virus. These consequences may have serious social impacts on the future of COVID-19 survivors. Compounding the functionally related issues of altered mental health parameters and viral susceptibility are the potential effects of compromised immunity on the establishment of functional herd immunity. Within this context, mental health takes on added importance, particularly in terms of the need to increase support for mental health research and community-based initiatives. Thus, COVID-19 infections continue to reveal mental health targets, a process we must now be prepared to deal with.