Using psychoneuroimmunity against COVID-19.

Brain, behavior, and immunity. 2020;87:4-5

Plain language summary

This viewpoint article raises awareness of the threat of COVID-19 poses to psychiatric patients who are in mental health hospitals. Those patients appear to have a much elevated mortality rate and are potentially more vulnerable to the effects of panic/anxiety due to the pandemic. Their lifestyle choices, influenced by fears about the virus, may also have a negative effect on their immunity. The article also raises the issue of the effects the pandemic and associated changes to day-to-day life can have on the mental and general health of the rest of the population, and in particular to mental health professionals, whose ability to care for their psychiatric patients may be impaired. The authors also briefly discuss the psychological and immunological mechanisms that connect our mental state to the ability of our immune system to fight infections, and the impact of our lifestyles and environments. To summarise they state that infected patients, uninfected quarantined individuals and medical professionals all require mental health supporting strategies, and that epidemiological studies of potential long-term psychiatric consequences are essential.


The worldwide outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) raises concerns of widespread panic and anxiety in individuals subjected to the real or perceived threat of the virus. Compared to general populations, patients who are institutionalized in a closed unit are also very vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and complications. This crisis touched on difficult issues of not only psychiatric care and ethics, but also psychological impacts to psychiatric care givers. In this Viewpoint, we address both physical and biopsychosocial aspects of this infection, as well as the psychoneuroimmunity of preventive strategies of healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, balanced nutrition, quality sleep and a strong connection with people. Social distancing and wearing masks might help us from pathogen exposure, yet such these measures also prevent us from expressing compassion and friendliness. Therefore, all forms of psychological support should be routinely implemented not only to consider psychological resilience but also to enhance psychoneuroimmunity against COVID-19.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Covid-19/psychoneuroimmunity
Environmental Inputs : Psychosocial influences
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Stress and resilience ; Psychological
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable


Nutrition Evidence keywords : COVID-19 ; Psychoneuroimmunology ; Immunity ; Mental health ; Lifestyle