Long-term consequences of COVID-19 on cognitive functioning up to 6 months after discharge: role of depression and impact on quality of life

Published: 11 February 2022| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/rk28p5d555.1
, Mariagrazia Palladini, Mario Mazza, Rebecca De Lorenzo, Roberto Furlan, Fabio Ciceri, Patrizia Rovere Querini, Francesco Benedetti


Neurologic and psychiatric symptoms have been reported in the months following the infection with COVID-19. A low-grade inflammation has been associated both with depression and cognitive symptoms, suggesting a link between these disorders. The aim of the study is to investigate cognitive functioning 6 months following hospital discharge for COVID-19, the impact of depression, and the consequences on quality of life. Ninety-two COVID-19 survivors evaluated at 1-month follow-up, 122 evaluated at 3 months and 98 evaluated at 6 months performed neuropsychological and psychiatric evaluations and were compared with a healthy comparison group (HC) of 165 subjects and 165 patients with major depression (MDD). Cognitive performances were adjusted for age, sex, and education. Seventy-nine percent of COVID-19 survivors at 1 month and 75% at 3- and 6-month follow-up showed cognitive impairment in at least one cognitive function. No significant difference in cognitive performances was observed between 1-, 3-, and 6-months follow-up. COVID-19 patients performed worse than HC but better than MDD in psychomotor coordination and speed of information processing. No difference between COVID-19 survivors and MDD was observed for verbal fluency, and executive functions, which were lower than in HC. Finally, COVID-19 survivors performed the same as HC in working memory and verbal memory. The factor that most affected cognitive performance was depressive psychopathology which, in turn, interact with cognitive functions in determining quality of life. Our results confirm that COVID-19 sequelae include signs of cognitive impairment which persist up to 6 months after hospital discharge and affect quality of life. DOI: 10.1007/s00406-021-01346-9



Ospedale San Raffaele


Depression, Cognitive Impairment, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus