Comprehensive Approach Needed to Treat Sleep Disorders Following COVID-19

Depression can make people who have recovered from COVID-19 feel less enthusiastic in their daily lifestyle.

A new study on sleep disorders, mood, and fatigue after COVID-19 showed interrelated factors, prompting the need for a more comprehensive approach to further treat the problem effectively, according to researchers from the HSE Centre for Cognition and Decision Making and the Central State Medical Academy.

The study, published in in the journal Neuroscience and Behavioral Psychology, included 119 hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses who completed 4 questionnaires for depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disorders. Patients with higher-than-average scores in their questionnaires also underwent psychiatric interviews.

The survey results showed high levels of mood disturbances and sleep disorders, with 28% of respondents reporting a decline in mood, 27% reporting a disruption in the quality of their sleep, and 73% indicating fatigue. Further, higher levels of fatigue increased the risk of anxiety and depression.

These results highlight that depression can make people who have recovered from COVID-19 feel less enthusiastic in their daily lifestyle. Additionally, increased anxiety and depression can have a significant impact on the quality of sleep.

“Although the relationship between mood and sleep disorders is intuitive, it is important to examine them carefully and separately especially in patients after COVID infection. Oddly enough, this aspect is often overlooked in the clinical examination of patients with COVID-19,” said Ainur Ragimova, research fellow at the HSE Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, in a press release. “Their sleep problems are more often attributed to physiological disturbances such as the consequences of a stay in intensive care and the effects of a prolonged lack of movement, but not to mood disorders. Our data once again underscores that when patients complain of sleep problems, it is necessary to screen their mental state both during their illness and after their quarantine has ended.”

The study authors note that the drugs prescribed to patients should be compatible with physiological indicators and test results and should be checked for cross-interactions with the main drug treatment. Therefore, they recommend prescribing low doses of non-benzodiazepine anxiolytics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Any prescribed treatment must be monitored by a physician and the prescribed doses should be carefully tested and titrated, according to the investigators.

“The current pandemic has not only changed the world in social terms, but has also affected the pattern of mental illness in the population,” Ragimova said in a press release. “We are now seeing an increase in neuropsychiatric disorders of varying severity. The results of this open study indicate that COVID-19 has a significant influence on the formation of anxiety-depressive symptoms and sleep disorders.”

REFERENCE

Researchers assessed the likelihood of sleep disorders after COVID-19. EurekAlert! April 14, 2022. Accessed April 18, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/949780