MANY COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, according to psychiatrists on Monday, November 9.
A large study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days, with anxiety, depression and insomnia most common among recovered COVID-19 patients.
Researchers also found significantly higher risks of dementia.
Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Britain’s Oxford University, said: “People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings … show this to be likely.”
“(Health) services need to be ready to provide care, especially since our results are likely to be underestimates (of the number of psychiatric patients),” he added.
The study analysed electronic health records of 69 million people in the United States, including more than 62,000 cases of COVID-19.
In the three months following testing positive for COVID-19, 1 in 5 survivors were recorded as having a first-time diagnosis of anxiety, depression or insomnia.
However, the findings also show that those with mental health disorders are also at higher risk of getting COVID-19, as according to Simon Wessely, professor of psychiatry at King’s College London:
“COVID-19 affects the central nervous system, and so might directly increase subsequent disorders. But this research confirms that is not the whole story, and that this risk is increased by previous ill health.”
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