Abstract: Long COVID refers to the lingering symptoms which persist or appear after the acute illness. The dominant long COVID symptoms in the two years since the pandemic began (2020-2021) have been depression, anxiety, fatigue, concentration and cognitive impairments with few reports of psychosis. Whether other symptoms will appear later on is not yet known. For example, dopamine-dependent movement disorders generally take many years before first symptoms are seen. Post-stroke depression and anxiety may explain many of the early long COVID cases. Hemorrhagic, hypoxic and inflammatory damages of the central nervous system, unresolved systematic inflammation, metabolic impairment, cerebral vascular accidents such as stroke, hypoxia from pulmonary damages and fibrotic changes are among the major causes of long COVID. Glucose metabolic and hypoxic brain issues likely predispose subjects with pre-existing diabetes, cardiovascular or lung problems to long COVID as well. Preliminary data suggest that psychotropic medications may not be a danger but could instead be beneficial in combating COVID-19 infection. The same is true for diabetes medications such as metformin. Thus, a focus on sigma-1 receptor ligands and glucose metabolism is expected to be useful for new drug development as well as the repurposing of current drugs. The reported protective effects of psychotropics and antihistamines against COVID-19, the earlier reports of reduced number of sigma-1 receptors in post-mortem schizophrenic brains, with many antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs being antihistamines with significant affinity for the sigma-1 receptor, support the role of sigma and histamine receptors in neuroinflammation and viral infections. Literature and data in all these areas are accumulating at a fast rate. We reviewed and discussed the relevant and important literature.

Tang SW, Leonard BE, Helmeste DM. Long COVID, neuropsychiatric disorders, psychotropics, present and future. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2022 Jun;34(3):109-126. doi: 10.1017/neu.2022.6. Epub 2022 Mar 3. PMID: 35144718.


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