Biological and Psychological Factors Determining Neuropsychiatric Outcomes in COVID-19

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Purpose of Review: We present biological and psychological factors implicated in psychiatric manifestations of SARS-CoV-2, as well as its neuroinvasive capability and immune pathophysiology.
Recent Findings: Preexisting mental illness leads to worse clinical outcomes in COVID-19. The presence of the virus was reported in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and brain tissue post-mortem. Most common psychiatric manifestations include delirium, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder. “Long-COVID” non-syndromal presentations include “brain-fogginess,” autonomic instability, fatigue, and insomnia.
Summary: SARS-CoV-2 infection can trigger prior vulnerabilities based on the priming of microglia and other cells, induced or perpetuated by aging and mental and physical illnesses. COVID-19 could further induce priming of neuroimmunological substrates leading to exacerbated immune response and autoimmunity targeting structures in the central nervous system (CNS), in response to minor immune activating environmental exposures, including stress, minor infections, allergens, pollutants, and traumatic brain injury.


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Current Psychiatry Reports