Dealing With a COVID-19 Diagnosis

Mady Hornig, MA, MD, discusses the mental and emotional aspects of dealing with a diagnosis and the evolution of how people are processing the virus many months later after it started.

Mady Hornig knows firsthand the full COVID-19 experience. Hornig MA, MD, is a psychiatrist who works in New York City and has had COVID-19 herself. She has even been characterized as being a COVID-19 long-hauler, where she has had lingering symptoms for months.

Although in the spring there was an overwhelming fear in the public sphere especially in New York according to Hornig, as the months have gone by and people have a better understanding of the virus, patients’ emotions might be more tempered. However she says they still need reassurance today when they are diagnosed.

One of the interesting phenomenons of COVID-19 has been the“happy hypoxics.” This is a smaller subset of patients with severe COVID-19 who have low blood-oxygen levels, but rather than struggling to breathe, they say they feel comfortable and are able to do normal things like talk with medical staff.

“These happy hypoxics were having these oxygen saturation levels in the high 70s and low 80s and their lips would start to turn blue and they didn’t feel short of breath,” Hornig said. “And so the question was, is it neurological circuitry that is being blunted from the emotional side because of the virus or because of the immune response induced by the virus?”

In the fourth segment of an interview with Contagion®, Hornig discusses how the cytokine system, which can play a role in COVID-19 patients, can affect their emotions as well as the importance of medical providers giving their patients objective measures to help them with reassurance and know that their care is being taken seriously.