Experts from the University College London say COVID-19 can trigger neurological complications–ranging from temporary brain dysfunction, delirium, strokes, and brain inflammation–in some people, even ones who don’t exhibit any other symptoms of the disease.
This certainly seems to be the case for one unnamed 41-year-old man, who spent 20 days at a London hospital back in April after he became delirious, unhinged, and “highly aroused,” according to a report published in the BMJ Case Reports medical journal.
It all started when the man woke up in the middle of the night feeling like his “brain was racing” and he was “going to die.”
“As the ambulance came, I confessed to my wife that I had sex with men (most of which before marriage), although I am heterosexual,” the man said afterwards. “I felt that I was incapable of lying or hiding the truth and thought I was dying.”
After being checked into the hospital, he tried to baptize the other patients, inappropriately “touched members of staff,” and made more bizarre confessions.
“I began to think that I was part of a TV show,” the man recalls, describing the feeling as “fascinating.”
“He also confessed to numerous hitherto undisclosed homosexual encounters and other sexual behaviors described as uncharacteristic by his wife,” the report notes. “He obsessively wrote down every personal interaction and bodily sensation. He said he found this experience ‘liberating.’”
Eventually, the man was transferred from the regular hospital to a psychiatric hospital.
After treating him with antipsychotic medication, doctors concluded that his coronavirus infection, which had otherwise been fairly mild, may have actually triggered a dormant case of bipolar disorder.
“This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first report of an acute episode of mania or psychosis as a result of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Dr. Jamie Mawhinney hypothesized.
Thankfully, the man seems to have made a full recovery and is back at home with his family.
“For my family and friends it was frightening,” he recalled. “Luckily, they had a lot of support from each other, and from the great team of doctors.”
“We should be vigilant and look out for these complications in people who have had COVID-19,” Dr. Michael Zandi told CNN this week, warning that it remains to be seen “whether we will see an epidemic on a large scale of brain damage linked to the pandemic.”