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COVID Lockdowns May Have Caused Brain Inflammation Impacting Mental Health, MGH Study Finds

BOSTON (CBS) -- A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital is showing how pandemic lockdowns impacted the human brain.

Research shows that for some people, the lifestyle disruptions may have triggered brain inflammation that can impact mental health. Scientists found it can happen whether or not you've been sick with COVID.

"Since the start of the pandemic, the severity and prevalence of symptoms of psychological distress, fatigue, brain fog, and other conditions have increased considerably in the United States, including among people not infected with SARS-CoV-2," Mass General researchers stated.

Scientists collected blood samples from dozens of study participants before and after "lockdown/stay-at-home measures were implemented to limit the pandemic's spread." Those who reported experiencing more symptoms of mental and physical fatigue after lockdowns were more likely to show signs of brain inflammation.

The study authors say the data supports the idea that brain inflammation can be triggered by stressful events.

"While COVID-19 research has seen an explosion in the literature, the impact of pandemic-related societal and lifestyle disruptions on brain health among the uninfected has remained under-explored," MGH research fellow Ludovica Brusaferri said. "Our study demonstrates an example of how the pandemic has impacted human health beyond the effects directly caused by the virus itself."

Click here to learn more about the study.

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