In April 2020, a group of doctors at Strasbourg University Hospital in France published a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on a study of 58 ICU patients with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection during the one-month period from March 3 to April 3, 2020. Out of the 58 ICU patients, 40 showed agitation, while 26 of the 40 agitated patients had confusion according to the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU.
Overall, the patients not only exhibited respiratory problems, but also neurologic disorders, from agitation and confusion to transient ischemic attack, partial epilepsy, and mild cognitive impairment.
The main author of the letter, Julie Helms, M.D., Ph.D., also told the BBC that what’s more alarming is that many of these patients were young people in their 30s and 40s.
A New York Times article dated Dec. 28, 2020 talked about psychotic symptoms in people who had COVID-19. A 30-year-old construction worker in New York City recovered from COVID-19 but became delusional. He thought his relative was going to kill him, so he tried to strangle the relative in bed.
A 42-year-old mother of four experienced mild physical symptoms from COVID-19 but developed psychotic symptoms months later. She kept hearing voices telling her to kill herself and her children, and she kept seeing scenes of her children being gruesomely murdered.
In April 2020, during the early months of the pandemic, a group of psychologists, researchers, and mental health professionals from around the world issued a call for action for mental health science in The Lancet Psychiatry. They said that there is an urgent need for research to address how mental health consequences for vulnerable groups can be mitigated under pandemic conditions.