COVID-Brain: The Lasting Impacts You Haven’t Heard About

COVID Brain The Lasting Impacts You Haven’t Heard About

Two months after beating COVID-19, a 60-year-old woman was experiencing extreme fatigue and depression so severe she was contemplating suicide. In an article for the BBC, the patient’s doctor said the woman experienced ongoing confusion among other bothersome symptoms. The woman told her doctor, “COVID has killed me.” It hadn’t physically taken her life, but it had stolen her mind and left her with no will to live.

While most people are worried about the threat of respiratory failure from the novel coronavirus, there is another invisible risk that could have more lasting consequences for survivors.

Some in the medical community are calling it “long-haul COVID,” but here at Amen Clinics, we call it COVID-Brain.


According to a 2020 study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 36.4% of COVID-19 patients develop neurological symptoms. Another 2020 study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine that looked at 64 consecutive COVID-19 patients in France found that 84% of them exhibited neurological symptoms.

Amen Clinics defines COVID-Brain as the cognitive and psychiatric problems the virus causes that attack the brain and steal the mind.

Amen Clinics defines COVID-Brain as the cognitive and psychiatric problems the virus causes that attack the brain and steal the mind. Click To Tweet

Among the symptoms seen in patients with COVID-19 are confusion, headaches, loss of smell and taste, tingling sensations, strokes, aphasia, and seizures. But these acute symptoms aren’t the only ones associated with the illness.

A February 2021 editorial in The Lancet Psychiatry reported that “there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is bad for mental health.”

In a November 2020 study in the same journal, researchers found that 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients with no previous history of psychiatric illness developed a mental illness within the first 90 days of their diagnosis. The most common psychiatric issues noted? Anxiety disorders, insomnia, and dementia.

For this large-scale study, researchers analyzed the electronic health records of 69 million people in the US, including 62,354 with a COVID-19 diagnosis. The COVID-mental health connection wasn’t a one-way street. People who had a psychiatric diagnosis in the previous year had a higher risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Other studies have pointed to additional negative outcomes from COVID-19. In the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, a 2020 study reveals that long-term consequences of COVID-19 may include:

Some research points to subsequent learning problems in both children and adults. The findings are so disturbing some experts are warning that a second pandemic of neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric problems is on the horizon.


In order to better understand the aftereffects of the illness, scientists are using brain imaging to look for abnormalities. Emerging research suggests COVID-19 can cross the blood-brain barrier, a lining that typically protects the brain from viruses and other foreign invaders. Once inside the brain, it can cause damage in a variety of ways.

For example, a 2020 paper in Acta Physiologica, has found that attention problems and memory deficits following infection with the virus are linked to damage in the hippocampus and cortical regions. The hippocampus is involved in mood, memory, and learning.

Brain imaging tests performed on 11 of the patients in the New England Journal of Medicine study mentioned above revealed low blood flow in the frontotemporal lobes in all of them. On brain SPECT imaging, hypoperfusion in the frontal lobes has been associated with inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, and forgetfulness.

Other scientific findings suggest the virus may disrupt the production of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. These neurochemicals play an important role in mood control, motivation, and attention span.

The Alzheimer’s Association is partnering with scientists worldwide on a study to better understand the long-term consequences of COVID-19 on the brain and cognitive function. It remains to be seen if COVID-19 may cause neurobiological changes typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.


As devastating as the pandemic has been so far, it could leave a lasting legacy of brain dysfunction. With over 5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and many more to come, this could mean millions of Americans will be left with brain issues that can impair every aspect of their lives. Considering the brain is the organ of thinking, feeling, and loving, it could impact the ability to learn in school, achieve success at work, and maintain healthy relationships.

How can you counteract this impending tsunami of brain-related problems?

The authors of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease study on the neurobiology of COVID-19 mentioned earlier suggest it would be helpful for survivors who are experiencing lingering cognitive issues, brain fog, or poor attention to undergo neurocognitive testing.

“Patients with low scores in certain cognitive domains can consider receiving brain rehabilitation in order to return to their baseline level of cognitive capacity. By doing so, they would reduce their risk for developing a worse case of age-related cognitive decline later in life,” they write.

Similarly, anyone who has had the illness should be aware of any new or worsened symptoms of depression, anxiety, OCD, or PTSD and be screened by a mental health professional. Considering that COVID-19 attacks the brain, it is critical to look at the brain as part of the screening process. SPECT, a functional brain imaging technology that measures blood flow and activity in the brain, can detect abnormal brain patterns associated with psychiatric conditions and cognitive dysfunction. Getting evaluated by an integrative or functional medicine physician can also help. These medical professionals can perform labs to see if chronic infections or inflammation are contributing to issues.

When COVID-Brain strikes, getting a comprehensive evaluation and a personalized treatment plan and ongoing support from the world’s leader in brain health is the key to getting your life back and feeling like yourself again.

COVID-Brain is real, and the mental and cognitive health issues that linger following a COVID-19 diagnosis can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. Dr. Mark Filidei, the Director of Integrative/Functional Medicine at Amen Clinics, is treating patients with COVID-Brain and long-haul symptoms. In addition, we offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

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  1. How can we combat this if we have very little income, certainly none for brain imaging or cognitive therapy. I haven’t had COVID but I work in a busy store and am 76. Thanks for any help.

    Comment by Elizabeth Parashis — August 26, 2020 @ 3:27 AM

  2. This is one of the most irresponsible articles I’ve read concerning the impact of contracting the covid 19 virus. These statistics cannot possibly be accurate given the time this virus has been present. This is written to scare people into thinking there is a substantial amount of clear, sound evidence on the impact covid has on the brain. I am disappointed in Amen clinics and have a completely different perspective on what you are able to contribute to brain health.

    Comment by Beth Pirtle — August 26, 2020 @ 3:55 AM

  3. Wouldn’t HBOT be a great treatment for this? It all sounds like TBI or Concussion symptoms or effects.

    Comment by Mary B Underwood — August 26, 2020 @ 4:28 AM

  4. Thank you for this information

    Comment by Tere rohret — August 26, 2020 @ 5:03 AM

  5. Since when has there been a study which has isolated this ‘novel c19’ and therefore able to allow studies to be done on its effects on people? NO ONE has isolated this and re-infected a sample group in the lab so it is impossible to claim literally anything regarding it. Your article is based on false premises and therefore invalid. I cant quite believe that you are part of the hype … would have expected better from the Amen clinic – really!!!!! I am unsubscribing obviously but wanted you to know that we are watching all sources (‘we’ being the people that have the intelligence to question and come to informed conclusions). Even if you were in receipt of secret information about this situation – how are these people being diagnosed with this? The PCR test is fundamentally flawed and the originator of the test specifically stated it SHOULD NOT BE USED TO determine whether a person has a virus or not – so again how does your article arrive at such bold claims? shoddy bad uneducated writing and science – you should all be ashamed

    Comment by mark — August 26, 2020 @ 5:08 AM

  6. Would taking 5-HTP help any of the symptoms of Covid brain?

    Comment by Carla Harrigan — August 26, 2020 @ 5:43 AM

  7. Hi Dr. Amen,

    I ‘ve been following you for years, and I love your work, especially with ADHD, which I struggle with pretty severely, especially the emotional instability aspect of ADHD. I only wish I could afford a SPECT scan, as I am curious to find out how my brain might be being affected by a 105.7 fever I had when I was 16 and pool diving injury when I was 12. I’m a 39 year old adult now, and I feel like I’m not living up to my potential as depression holds me back.

    Comment by Kerry Flood-Mellen — August 26, 2020 @ 5:48 AM

  8. I’ve not had a test (not available here) but that does it – I had Covid19 in Mar-April 2020. I’d just had a dose of flu in February, and then got a much much worse one, that I already thought was Covid before this article. Having had two doses of pneumonia years ago that both nearly killed me, I was reading all the online Functional Medicine and Alt Med help (food and supplement based) that I could in advance. So I had stocked up on Lipsomal Vit C (boxes of it), Vit D3 & Vit K2, Vit E, B complex, zinc, magnesium, Quercetin (it now turns out this could be very very important), etc etc.

    I remembered from the two attacks of pneumonia that when an influenza goes into the chest but then turns worse, as in pneumonia, it happens FAST, so had my supplies to hand when the influenza started to get worse very very fast in Mar/April – I just spared time to get extra supplies for my cat upstairs! Then I took one gram of Lipsomal Vit C in particular every hour for twelve hours, and the other things too, for several days. Despite this it was a battle to survive it, but I did – only making one mistake, and that was to reduce the amount of Lipsomal Vit C (v expensive) too soon, I should have continued it for three days at the very high dose after I began to get well, I now know.

    I lost my sense of smell completely for a month weeks before that was recognised as a symptom, but I think that was saved in part by already being on a ketogenic diet. However I have been in such despair so often since that it really has been a desperate struggle to stay alive, I find my brain constantly working out how to commit suicide (argh!) – which as I am also over 60, you can tell I haven’t felt like before (or I wouldn’t be here!).

    I have however found this very important chemicals to be vital to my brain – Acetyl L-Carnitine – along with high daily doses of zinc and P5P (the active form of Vit B6) – using these both several times daily has kept me here – but I do so DESPERATELY wish these constant thoughts of despair and suicide would go away!!!! Another awful thing is that my faith in God has vanished – leaving me in more despair.

    If you feel any of the above might apply to you, please look them up on several reputable websites and do your own research and find the doses that might help you – we are all different and different things behave differently in all of us. Good luck to us all – and God (if He cares at all) bless you!

    Comment by JennyanyCat — August 26, 2020 @ 6:20 AM

  9. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve had Covid (with the ever-changing list of symptoms), I can say that I definitely suffer from forgetfulness, a horrible attention span, and insomnia. This news post is greatly appreciated because it confirms what I have been suffering from for the last few weeks.

    Comment by Jan — August 26, 2020 @ 6:45 AM

  10. I’m a 61 years old woman, tested positive, and was hospitalized for 8 days on COVID floor.
    I’m not young, but I’m a Sassy old girl. I was really scared, pretending to be brave. I’ve been home 5 days, isolating. My thoughts are a struggle to keep in line. Now what? Dad gum, I need my brain

    Comment by Donna Kaufman — August 26, 2020 @ 7:41 AM

  11. Aside from the brain-barrier issue – it would seem experts need to also look at the medications taken to fight/treat the infection also as contributors to these after-effects symptoms. Many of those meds/drugs contribute to Nutritional deficiencies as well that would bring on those symptoms as well- in part because they would disrupt the healthy gut-biome flora.

    Comment by Brenda — August 26, 2020 @ 7:43 AM

  12. Yes, thank you for helping me feel less crazy than I already think. I am many months post-COVID 19 and feel at times like so fatigued I cannot get out of bed. I appreciate the information. Truly.

    Comment by Tammy Henry — August 26, 2020 @ 7:46 AM

  13. Amanpour & Co had an interview with a fellow infected with COVID-19 in March. He has long lasting neural symptoms and is under the care of a team out of Mt Sinai in New York. The hospital has opened a unit called Center for Post-COVID Care. Much is not known, but this issue can not be refuted out of hand.

    Comment by Cheryl Stephens — August 26, 2020 @ 8:56 AM

  14. Hey Dr Amen and team – whats the difference between the covid 19 brin and the post viral sysndrome brain / ME brain. I suffered from a really bad bout of flu in feb 2019 and was left with PVF/ME and it too 6 months to have this recognised enough to be ref’d to a UK NHS clinic.

    Comment by Gloria Goodwell — August 26, 2020 @ 10:55 AM

  15. Thank you for sharing this. I believe I had Covid in January after returning from Italy. I was sick for several weeks with horrific illness and thought I would die, two months later, I still had severe fatigue, shortness of breath, and anxiety I could not explain. My brain would not stop(crazy dream like state)even during day. I started trying some of Amen supplements, I do believe they are helping some. I definitely have had a traumatic experience. My brain was fine before virus. I have been searching for answers. I believe I have like a PTSD from the virus. Anxiety gets hard, I have never had anything like this before. I believe Covid brain is real. I am still struggling, but doing better and praying this will not be permanent damage. I am looking for answers and help. Thank you for posting this.

    Comment by Tina Pemberton — August 26, 2020 @ 11:57 AM

  16. I’ve seen these symptoms first hand. I work in a nursing home that had over 57 cases of covid.
    some staff and residents experienced brain fog, anxiety, aggression, forgetfulness strange behaviors during and after. One of our nurses actually coined the phrase here…. ( covid brain)
    I believe it. I’ve had the virus myself and after I lost a large part of my sense of smell. had confusion initially.

    Comment by Katherine Tombolesi — August 26, 2020 @ 11:58 AM

  17. Hello Donna, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with information about our clinics and other resources.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — August 26, 2020 @ 12:37 PM

  18. I never heard of Amen Clinic but i do want to share with everyone that is sharing a review that i am a survivor of Covid 19 and as they mentioned in this article there is been worse aftermath consequences in my brain health than my respiratory system. I won’t ever be able to explain all the things I had experience in my regular living , each one has to do with my brain. I can’t tell you I did have a very sharp mind and that has been very compromise , I am a bilingual person and for the past 27 years , not even when I was learning English , my brain was so messed up y to get my language out , my tongue gets twisted and words don’t come out right. Even with my Spanish I forget words very often now , like I never knew those words . And when it come to númbers my mind don’t catch up writing phone numbe, address etc . It is weird , my son look at me like I am demential and ask me why I say thing that makes no sense at all. I’m driving to go a place and end up at the complet opposite way I was supouse to go. I can’t manage my anxiety and feeling depress when I never knew what it was like to have depression.
    I will talk to any of you that doesn’t believe what that article say. I have not idea if it’s 100 percent accurate but I am living proof my brain has been screwed u after covid

    Comment by Mercedes — August 26, 2020 @ 12:52 PM

  19. The suspicious people above need to spend some time educating themselves instead of making accusations. They can start by googling something like “covid19,longhaulers”. There are many people in the UK who have been tested and diagnosed with the corona virus infection, and who have also had antibody tests and in some cases covid specific T-cell tests. There is no doubt that they were infected, and they are suffering a wide range of symptoms for weeks/months after getting over the infection. The UK and Italy have both designated government agencies to address this “longhauler” problem. My wife and I believe that we both had a Covid19 infection, luckily with very mild symptoms , but with about 8 of the top 15 symptoms identified by the longhaulers. We could not get tested because our symptoms were too mild, probably because we have supplemented with all of the things that help the immune system fight the Covid infection (VitD. Vit C Vit E Bcomplex vitamins, zinc etc) for years, but the collection of symptoms was strongly suggestive. I suffered from a lack of motivation/volition and focus, and frequent brain fog episodes for about 12 weeks after the symptoms cleared up. My wife had less of the early “longhauler” symptoms, but has definitely worsened memory. Would she have had worsened memory w/o Covid? Maybe. We will never no, but the timing is strongly suggestive.. Amen Clinics is doing a needed service by bringing this issue to peoples’ attention. Bravo!

    Comment by Murray V Duffin — August 26, 2020 @ 12:58 PM

  20. Have been interested in having a brain scan done on myself and my 11 year old daughter for several years. Does insurance cover this procedure and if not may I ask what the cost is for a scan or imaging to be done. Thank you sincerely Tiffany Essex

    Comment by Tiffany Phipps — August 27, 2020 @ 8:03 AM

  21. I have grave concerns about such an article as this one. It is completely unsubstantiated by any of the facts set forth by Dr. Fauci, Dr. Brix or by the CDC. After researching the cost of a test through your clinic, I feel this article may be self serving to generate money for your clinic. If you are able to prove any of this, I believe it should be discussed with the health officials first, before posting it in general. Please research appropriately and discuss these finding with Dr. Fauci and Dr. Brix and the CDC before sending this out to the public.

    Comment by Linda B DeChow — August 27, 2020 @ 11:14 AM

  22. I do not believe covid is anything more than any other flu. People have been frightened severely, couped up wearing a mask which is detrimental to anyones health. Suicides, drugs and child abuses are the outcome of this plandemic, which is a crime against humanity…

    Comment by Marilyn Davidson — August 27, 2020 @ 5:20 PM

  23. For all of you questioning the validity of this article addressing these brain issues I assure you as a Covid long hauler this can be a very real and debilitating consequence of Covid19. I am 51 and was a very healthy and athletic person before I was infected. It has changed my whole life. It effects the brain in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Memory problems, confusion, brain fog and a condition called Dysautonomia. The cdc has been very slow to address many aspects of Covid related health issues. This being just one of them. I encourage you to check out survivor corps on Facebook to see what so many of us are suffering from months after the illness before making judgements about which you know nothing or have experienced yourselves. Thank you so much Dr. Amen for beginning to make the public aware of this debilitating after effect of Covid and for all of your research on brain health. This is real and it’s going to be a huge problem the whole world is facing.

    Comment by Amy — September 1, 2020 @ 2:57 AM

  24. Hello Tiffany, thank you for reaching out. Amen Clinics is an out-of-network provider. Our Care Coordinators can assist you with additional information regarding pricing, insurance, reimbursement and financing options. Our Care Coordinators can be reached here:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — September 1, 2020 @ 10:04 AM

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