The loss of sense of smell and taste caused by Covid-19 can cause mental health issues. Here’s why

If you or someone you know has lost their sense of smell and taste caused by Covid-19, the perpetual discomfort can lower the quality of life and cause mental health issues. Here’s all you need to know!
loss of smell
Your sense of smell and taste can really impact your mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Updated: 10 Nov 2021, 07:54 pm IST
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Let’s walk down memory lane to the time when we were first acquainted with the five senses — it must be sometime in school, right? Since then, everything that we can see, feel, smell, touch, or hear holds a special meaning. These are the many ways in which we connect with the world! Food is a critical aspect of this sensorial experience, especially when you can smell and taste it! The many flavours and textures of foods are what makes them so satisfying. But what if you’ve lost that sensation or let’s just say there is a reduced sensation? Unfortunately, this is one of the most common consequences of Covid-19.

As per a study published in the American Family Physician, our senses of smell and taste are closely linked. This means that 95% of the time when an individual experiences a loss of taste, it’s caused by a loss of smell. Unfortunately, it even poses several mental health challenges.

covid transfer from tears
The loss of taste and smell due to Covid-19 can impact mental well-being. Image courtesy; Shutterstock
How can loss of smell and taste impact your mental health?

As per Preeta Ganguli, a trauma-informed therapist and mental wellness consultant, the loss of smell and taste can really affect the quality of our lives.

“Although no one else around you can figure out if you have lost your sense of taste or smell, it is uncomfortable for you. This may lead to isolation from people, because you may feel that others do not understand your experience,” she said.

Not being able to smell or taste normally can also impact a person’s mood and well-being, and can eventually lead to various mental health issues like anxiety, and depression.

“In some people, it could also show up in the form of eating disorders, since they do not enjoy the act of eating anymore. Some of them may eat less, because of the perpetual discomfort, which could lead to massive weight loss,” she told HealthShots.

personality disorders
The sense of frustration grows due to not being able to taste and smell. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It might seem harmless, but not being able to smell also induces a feeling of anxiety and fear of being unable to handle emergencies like gas leaks, or even daily situations like identifying spoiled foods. This affects how a person perceives things around them, and it can be very upsetting, when they are unable to smell and taste the way they would earlier!

Is there a solution?

Some new research from the University of Cincinnati has found certain coping mechanisms that have helped Covid-19 patients with the lessened sense of smell, which in turn, impacts the taste. One of the common themes was that people who have been facing these challenges have been eating more foods with distinct textures, such as strawberries because of their ability to sense the texture of the fruit.

The study has also revealed that some people dealt with the loss of their smell by going to a candle store or a coffee shop to experience strong smells.

“Smelling a variety of essential oils every few hours can also prove to be helpful, “ concludes Ganguli.

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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