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Anxiety, depression, and COVID-19 can be a bad combination for your brain—and your long-term health.

Having anxiety and depression before a COVID infection increases the risk of developing long COVID, researchers have found.

Those with long COVID who develop anxiety and depression after an infection may have brain shrinkage in areas that regulate memory, emotion, and other functions as well as disruption of brain connectivity.

While many questions remain about these intertwined relationships, the associations aren’t a complete surprise. Experts already know that depression and anxiety are associated with inflammation and immune dysfunction, perhaps helping to explain the link between these mental health conditions, the risk of long COVID, and the changes in the brain.

Brain changes accompanying a COVID infection have concerned researchers since earlier in the pandemic, when U.K. Biobank researchers found brain atrophy, loss of grey matter, and decline in cognition in those infected with COVID compared with those not infected. Head over to WebMD to read the full story.