When thinking of Covid-19 most people think of a fever, cough, or lack of taste and smell. However, there is another symptom found in a recent study, a psychiatric symptom, that remains unknown to most people, yet is still quite dangerous. These aforementioned symptoms are paranoia, delusions, and suicidal thoughts, all of which were developed by teens in the midst of their Covid-19 infections. Luckily, scientists believe they were able to pinpoint the cause of these symptoms.
Scientists believe rogue antibodies, while trying to fight Covid, accidentally targeted their own brain. The antibodies were found in the patients’ cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is a clear liquid that flows in and around the hollow spaces of the brain and spinal cord. The rogue antibodies found do target brain tissue, however we can’t say for sure whether they are the direct cause of the newfound symptoms. This is due to the fact that the newly found antibodies target structures on the inside of cells, not the outside.
According to the study, Covid-19 may trigger the development of the brain targeting antibodies. The study also suggests that treatments that calm down the immune system could resolve the psychiatric symptoms. Both teens in the research underwent intravenous immunoglobulin treatment, which is utilized to reset the immune response in conditions related to autoimmunity and inflammation. Following this, the psychiatric symptoms of the teenagers either partially or completely disappeared. However, it remains a possibility that the patients might have shown improvement without any treatment, and due to the limited size of this study, this cannot be ruled out.
3 teens who were hospitalized due to Covid-19 at the researchers’ hospital were chosen for a new study. They tested positive with either a PCR or rapid antigen test. As taught in AP Biology, antigens are the foreign receptors on the surface of antibodies. Immune cells can transport a piece of the pathogen to T-cells for recognition once the pathogen is eliminated. T-cells play a role in triggering B-cells, which then produce antibodies targeted against that specific antigen. Of the 3 patients chosen, one had a history of unspecified anxiety and depression, and after being infected with Covid-19, they experienced delusion and paranoia. Another had pre existing anxiety and motor tics, and after getting Covid-19, they experienced mood shifts, aggression, and suicidal thoughts. The 3rd teen had no pre-existing condition, and after getting Covid-19 experienced insomnia, agitation, and disordered eating.
As part of the study, all 3 patients had a spinal tap which showed they all had higher than the normal amount of antibodies. However, only 2 of the patients carried Covid-19 antibodies, which created more uncertainty in the study. In conclusion, with this small a study, we can’t say for sure whether there is a causation between the antibodies and the psychiatric symptoms despite the evidence.
Based on the evidence presented, do you think there is a causation between the antibodies and they psychiatric symptoms of Covid-19 found in the teens?