New research shows COVID-19 can negatively impact the brain and mental wellbeing

NeuRA’s Professor Kaarin Anstey is a member of Governance Committee of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), which has produced a new report that confirms COVID-19 can directly harm brain health.

While we often hear about the respiratory complications caused by the coronavirus, the information contained in this report shows COVID-19 also poses a serious risk to our brain.

According to the report, the virus can damage the brain both directly and indirectly.

“It’s two pronged,” explains Professor Anstey.

“Firstly, COVID-19 itself can harm the brain by causing inflammation, nerve damage and neurological symptoms such as delirium, extreme fatigue and loss of taste and smell.”

“Secondly, the social isolation that has been crucial to containing the spread of the virus can undermine mental health and exacerbate existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder,” she said.

The report also notes that older adults and people with dementia are particularly vulnerable to this damage.

To curb the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the brain and maintain mental wellbeing, GCBH provides ten steps that people can take. These recommendations include:

  • Consider getting the vaccine as soon as you are able
  • Stay physically active
  • Maintain a balanced diet
  • Stay socially connected
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • Stimulate your brain
  • Don’t put off necessary medical appointments
  • Take care of your mental health
  • Pay attention to signs of sudden confusion, and
  • Monitor changes in your brain health.

As part of the report, the GCBH is asking governments to provide support to members of the community who are at particular risk, which in addition to older adults includes racial and ethnic minorities.

If you would like to read or download “Covid-19 and Brain Health: The Global Council on Brain Health’s Recommendations on What to Do Now”, click here

To learn more about keeping your brain healthy through exercise, nutrition, sleep and other modifiable lifestyle factors, click