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New study shows 1-in-3 COVID-19 survivors have long-term brain effects

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A recently published study from the journal of The Lancet Psychiatry says that nearly 34% of individuals studied had some sort of neurological or psychiatric effect, six months after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

The study included over 236,000 people who were diagnosed with the virus and that COVID-19 was "associated with increased risk of neurological and psychiatric outcomes."

The study also references a different health records study regarding long-term effects from COVID-19 including an increased risk for anxiety, mood disorders and dementia.

Individuals suffering with long-term side effects from COVID-19 are labeled as COVID-19 "long-haulers." Most long-haulers deal with symptoms for months after their original COVID-19 diagnosis.

Amanda Finley, a Kansas City resident and COVID-19 long-hauler, says after getting vaccinated in February, her symptoms are finally starting to clear up almost a year later.

Finley said according to her medical records, she first got COVID-19 in March 2020 and then was diagnosed with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus again in October. She said symptoms with each sickness varied but that she dealt with brain fog, a severe cough for months, trouble breathing, rashes, new allergies and heart palpitations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 can see a range of long-term side effects. The CDC says these side effects can last for weeks or even months. They include:

  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Heart palpitations
  • Rash
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of taste/smell
  • Anxiety

"The first and second time was very different," Finley said. But both times Finley said she was hit hard with different symptoms that affected her everyday life.

"One day I was just stirring soup in my kitchen and my heart rate was in the 120s," Finley said. "I had to sit down while stirring soup. It was ridiculous."

She said the virus kept her inside her apartment for four months.

"I wasn't able to work anyhow," Finley said. "I ended up losing my apartment and I'm living with a friend now (and) that's just one thing that I've had to deal with as a result of COVID."

Finley said she felt like she was going through this journey alone and created a Facebook support group to connect with others who were going through similar journeys. Today the group has almost 5,000 members.

Finley said that after she received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Feb. 8 it felt like a culmination of all her symptoms hitting her at once for the following six days. On the seventh day, her symptoms seemed to subside.

Finley said she has since experienced relief from those symptoms, which has been reported by other long-haulers, as well. She's encouraging other people to get the vaccine to protect themselves against the experience she's had to go through this past year.

"This is not what you think it is ... COVID does not discriminate," Finley said. "COVID hits anyone and it hits hard and fast."

On Thursday, Boone County reported the first known positive case of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant. Boone County is also currently the most-vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 36.6% receiving at least one coronavirus vaccine shot, according to the state dashboard.

Pulaski is the least-vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 8.8% of its population receiving at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Author Profile Photo

Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.

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