SCIENCE DAILY / “My father’s 96-year-old is officially restored to the COVID-19 since may 24, after 3 weeks in the hospital and a week sick at his residence. He has never been to the intensive care unit. However, it would have had to start a little physical therapy last week but refused categorically to each test. We are told that he cries to leave him alone, he is sick and too tired. He even scares a woman with her attitude. It does not look like my father, who has always been a friendly man, coherent and active. So is this the COVID-19 leaves traces psychological ? Or a kind of trauma ?”, application Suzanne Perrault, Saint-Lambert.
The medical journal The Lancet has published in mid-may, a review of studies on the psychological consequences related to the three coronavirus severe : the severe acute respiratory syndrome” (SARS), which infected 8000 people and killed about 800 in 2002-2003 ; the respiratory syndrome Middle East (MERS), emerged in 2012 with a case fatality rate of 35 % ; and the famous COVID-19 to which has been case for the past few months. There is almost no published work on the latter for the moment, but, write the authors of the Lancet, if the COVID-19 follows roughly the same course as the SARS and MERS, it appears that “most patients should recover without experiencing a mental illness”.
However, this study also has found symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (SPT) in a significant proportion of survivors, even once recovered from the SARS or MERS. A year after their discharge from the hospital, 29 % showed symptoms of “clinical level” for depression, 34% for anxiety and so much for the SPT. We are talking about symptoms such as moodiness, insomnia, irritability, etc, So that the authors of the study warn doctors to keep an eye on this aspect of the thing.
And this is not particularly surprising, stresses Geneviève Belleville, a researcher in psychology at the Université Laval, who leads work on (inter alia) the syndrome of post-traumatic stress disorder. “The SPT that would be caused by an illness or a hospital stay, it is a thing that exists, it is clear. Same thing for depression : these are reactions that one can have when one is exposed to a danger that puts our lives in danger,” she said. It has nothing specific to the COVID-19, but like any other serious illness may lead to psychological sequelae.
Ms. Belleville may not rule on an individual case, but it notes that the loss of pleasure and interest in things of life may be a symptom of depression. Irritability can be a symptom of depression and STP. “The ability to have fun and to feel positive emotions is always very affected when we have this kind of disorder,” she said.
If (and I say “if”, because it is for the medical staff to decide) the father of Ms. Perrault is suffering many of these problems, it would be far — but then there is very, very far — from being the first person out of a hospital, depressed, anxious, or more or less traumatized. This is because of the disease itself, the fact of touching the dead, prolonged stay in hospitals (which despite the best efforts of the staff are not places especially gay men) or other things yet, several studies have found. This one, for example, found that 34 % of older patients admitted to a cardiac intensive care unit showed signs of significant depression during their hospital stay, but a month after their release, they were no more than 17 % to suffer. This article appeared in 2018 has found that on almost 5000 patients admitted to the intensive care unit for various reasons in the United Kingdom from 2008 to 2010, more than half showed signs of significant depression, anxiety, or SPT. And one could extend this list for a long time : when one is hospitalized, it is usually because something is going very wrong, then there is nothing unusual come out of it more or less bruised mentally. — even if one is not passed in the intensive care unit, as the father of Ms. Perrault.
The good news is that these problems are treated, and this, to all ages. “Unfortunately, this is a stereotype important, says Ms. Belleville : we will often assume that the change of mood in a person is caused by aging and that there is therefore nothing to do. But this is not true, especially when it does not appear to be a physiological cause behind it, such as the onset of dementia. In an elderly person who has a level of health that is acceptable, there is no reason not to treat mental health disorders. (…) It can be treated, regardless of age. There may be medications that will be given with more caution because of the fragility that comes with old age, but if we are talking about psychotherapy, it is done even at an advanced age.”
* * * * *
You have to ask questions about the world that surrounds you ? They concern physics, biology or any other discipline, our journalist will be happy to answer them. To our eyes, there is no “silly question”, no matter “too small” to be interesting ! Then write to us at : email@example.com.