Mood, Anxiety and Olfactory Dysfunction in COVID-19: Evidence of Central Nervous System Involvement?Laryngoscope. 2020 11; 130(11):2520-2525.L
The objective of this study was to determine the burden of depressed mood and anxiety in COVID-19, and associated disease characteristics.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This is a prospective, cross-sectional study of 114 COVID-19 positive patients diagnosed using RT-PCR-based testing over a 6-week period. The two-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) and the two-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder questionnaire (GAD-2) were used to measure depressed mood and anxiety level, respectively, at enrollment and for participants' baseline, pre-COVID-19 state. Severity of smell loss, loss of taste, nasal obstruction, rhinorrhea/mucus production, fever, cough, and shortness of breath (SOB) during COVID-19 were assessed.
PHQ-2 and GAD-2 significantly (P < .001) increased from baseline to enrollment. PHQ-2 was associated with smell loss (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR] = 1.40, 95% CI, 1.10-1.78, P = .006), age (aIRR = 1.02, 95% CI, 1.01-1.04, P = .006), and baseline PHQ-2 score (aIRR = 1.39, 95% CI, 1.09-1.76, P = .007). GAD-2 score was associated with smell loss (aIRR = 1.29, 95% CI, 1.02-1.62, P = .035), age (aIRR = 1.02, 95% CI, 1.01-1.04, P = .025) and baseline GAD-2 score (aIRR = 1.55, 95% CI, 1.24-1.93, P < .001). Loss of taste also exhibited similar associations with PHQ-2 and GAD-2. PHQ-2 and GAD-2 scores were not associated with severities of any other symptoms during the COVID-19 course.
Despite the occurrence of symptoms-such as SOB-associated with severe manifestations of COVID-19, only the severities of smell and taste loss were associated with depressed mood and anxiety. These results may raise the novel possibility of emotional disturbance as a CNS manifestation of COVID-19 given trans-olfactory tract penetration of the central nervous system (CNS) by coronaviruses.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
3 Laryngoscope, 130:2520-2525, 2020.