Sam wasn’t sleeping enough. As in, not much at all. She just couldn’t drop off. But even if she did she’d wake right back up.
Day after day, week after week. She’s done everything she knows to do. And she has to work, so she just has to get by. Still, it scares her because her mind just isn’t clear. On top of that, she felt nervous all the time… shaky. What’s so hard about walking to the mailbox? What was the matter with her… Was there any connection to psychiatric disorders and COVID? The very idea made her shudder.
But it was real. And there were some things that had become harder and harder for her…since a couple months before she stopped sleeping. She didn’t know if being overly tired was making her feel uncertain about things like answering the phone or walking down the street, or if the nervousness was keeping her from sleeping?
Still, she was careful with COVID precautions. Always had her mask with her, and her hand sanitizer. She did have to work in the office, but everyone wore masks, and the cleaning service wiped everything down each night.
In spite of all that, she started feeling bad. Odd symptoms. On top of the shakiness. A tightness in her chest, strange feeling in her throat, and she felt sort of washed out. Then she ran a fever so she called in. Since her symptoms continued, she went for a drive-through COVID test… and it was positive.
Arrrgghhhh. So she had to stay home. But she felt so weak and crummy. After calling in to work, she went to bed. Fever and chills continued over night. And she realized she was getting weaker and weaker. Overall…her symptoms reminded her of the time she had mononucleosis in high school.
It was hard to be alone and try to figure out what to do.
Time to Take Action
The next day, she was afraid to wait any longer, so she called her doctor to get his advice. He told her she should go to the hospital.
The harder it was to breathe, the more discouraged she felt. Thankfully, they put a commode by her bed, because even walking to the bathroom in her room was just too much exertion.
This was far worse than mono. It was becoming scary. And because of the pandemic, her family couldn’t visit her. That night, she woke up panicking for air. She heard an alarm…her room filled with people in protective garb… then everything went black…
Sometimes A Disorder Seems to Make You Vulnerable To Contract COVID-19, and Sometimes COVID-19 Seems to Make you Vulnerable to Developing a Disorder…
Phil was 73, recently retired as COO of a successful marketing firm, and was beginning to enjoy his freedom. Of course, the pandemic wasn’t helping matters or helping him with his retirement plans. He wore a mask when he went out, kept sanitizer in his car and used it often.
Occasionally, he’d go fishing or play a round of golf. And when he did, he was outside and didn’t wear a mask.
One day, he noticed one of his golf buddies seemed to have a cough. Phil asked him about it, and he said he had something stuck in his throat from breakfast. Three days later Phil didn’t feel right. Something was off. By lunch time, he was feeling bad. Achy, draggy, his throat hurt, his stomach hurt. He called his golf buddy who told him he had been admitted to the hospital.
Social Distancing and Masks Matter to Avoid the Vicious Cycle of Psychiatric Disorders and COVID
Phil was healthy, spry, in good shape. He truly didn’t feel vulnerable to catching anything. He called his doctor, who told him to get a drive-through COVID test and to call back after taking his temperature. Oh no. It was 101 degrees. He went for the drive through COVID test, and by the time he got home he felt like he was in trouble. He had no idea …if this was COVID…. that it could get so bad so fast.
By supper, he didn’t want to eat, and his breathing was shallow and rapid. His wife called 911, and by midnight he was on a ventilator.
His wife was terrified.
Phil was so sick. His family was so afraid he wouldn’t survive. But after 11 days in the hospital he began to improve, and they removed the respirator a couple days later.
Once he was home again, resting and rebuilding his strength, his wife noticed he was missing words. He called common objects by the names of something else. At first it embarrassed him, and then he lost track that it was happening.
In less than 6 months, he forgot the names of his grandchildren, and a few months after that, they had to put special locks on the doors to keep him from walking out and getting lost.
He didn’t really have dementia in his family, medical history… and his behavior was baffling for the people who loved him.
Phil’s Battle with COVID May Have Set Him Up for Dementia, as It Has Others
It’s a Vicious Cycle of Psychiatric Disorders and COVID
As if we didn’t already have enough to think about, new research has emerged that reveals a vicious cycle between psychiatric disorders and COVID.
Specifically, between depression/anxiety as well as insomnia and COVID. And for the older patients, between COVID and dementia.
The study, led by Paul Harrison at Oxford, examined the electronic health records of 69.8 million people from 54 healthcare organizations in the US between January 2020 and August 2020.
They found that in the 14-90 day period after their COVID-19 diagnosis, 5.8% received their first-ever diagnosis of psychiatric illness. This compares to the 2.5 -3.4% who are diagnosed with psychiatric illness after another illness without COVID.
Another study, led by Nora Volkow at the National Institutes of Health, conducted a study of over 61 million adults found that people who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder in the last year have a heightened risk for COVID…and they tend to have worse outcomes that those who fight COVID without a psychiatric diagnosis.
And the diagnosis that seemed to cause the greatest risk was depression. So to provide perspective, for those who had been diagnosed within the last 12 months with a psychiatric disorder and also contracted COVID-19, the death rate was 8.5%, compared to 4.7% for those who had no psychiatric diagnosis.
The study couldn’t reveal WHY this is the case, but researchers have some hypotheses.
For one thing, if you’re depressed, it’s hard to care, so therefore more likelihood of abandoning precautions. In addition, if you struggle with psychiatric symptoms, you may have a higher sensitivity to stress, and you may have less resilience to cope with the uncertainty, isolation, and financial challenges associated with the pandemic.
All of that adds up to weakened resistance and greater risk for relapse.
It all comes down to comorbidity…and psychiatric disorders fall into the category of “underlying conditions” that increase your risk, just as diabetes and heart disease do.
And so, just like the grandmother who has chronic asthma, or the business man with heart disease, you need to take special precautions to protect yourself from becoming infected with COVID-19.
These revelations about how COVID-19 illness can seem to make you more vulnerable for psychiatric disorders, including dementia, and how recent psychiatric diagnoses can also make you more vulnerable to being infected by COVID-19, tell you how important it is to protect yourself through the rest of the pandemic. This vicious cycle can result in long term problems that make the precautions worthwhile.
Be extra careful to protect yourself from the vicious cycle of psychiatric disorders and COVID.
At Innovative Psychiatry, we’ve taken more extra steps to protect you and our staff by using VB Enviro Care’s plasma cell technology tools to remove dangerous pathogens from the air and surfaces. And we still wear masks. And so will you.
Because our focus is for you to get better. To reach a point where you feel like the best you’ve ever been. So we want to treat your symptoms, and we also want you to stay well, free of COVID-19 and the flu.
IV ketamine treatment has demonstrated dramatically that at this point it may be the most rapid and best treatment available for depression, bipolar depression and PTSD, and so much of the anxiety that goes along with them.
Let’s work together to help you experience the rewarding life you long for.
It’s the only life you have, right? Do this for yourself. Call us.
To the restoration of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.