Background and objectives: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly contagious infectious disease, responsible for a global pandemic that began in January 2020. Human/COVID-19 interactions cause different outcomes ranging from minor health consequences to death. Since social interaction is the default mode by which individuals communicate with their surroundings, different modes of contagion can play a role in determining the long-term consequences for mental health and emotional well-being. We examined some basic aspects of human social interaction, emphasizing some particular features of the emotional contagion. Moreover, we analyzed the main report that described brain damage related to the COVID-19 infection. Indeed, the goal of this review is to suggest a possible explanation for the relationships among emotionally impaired people, brain damage, and COVID-19 infection.
Results: COVID-19 can cause several significant neurological disorders and the pandemic has been linked to a rise in people reporting mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Neurocognitive symptoms associated with COVID-19 include delirium, both acute and chronic attention and memory impairment related to hippocampal and cortical damage, as well as learning deficits in both adults and children.
Conclusions: Although our knowledge on the biology and long-term clinical outcomes of the COVID-19 infection is largely limited, approaching the pandemic based on lessons learnt from previous outbreaks of infectious diseases and the biology of other coronaviruses will provide a suitable pathway for developing public mental health strategies, which could be positively translated into therapeutic approaches, attempting to improve stress coping responses, thus contributing to alleviate the burden driven by the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; central nervous system; coronavirus; emotional contagion; pandemic.