Covid-19 patients at greater risk of mental health conditions

According to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal Covid-19 patients are at greater risk of developing mental health conditions after the disease than those who experience the flu and other respiratory tract infections.

The study analysed the electronic health records of 236,379 Covid-19 patients from the US-based TriNetX network, and reveals that around one-in-three was diagnosed with a psychiatric or neurological disorder within six months of infection.

Reportedly, the most common mental health concerns were anxiety (17%) and mood disorders (14%), with the research showing that neurological diagnoses such stroke and dementia being rarer but not uncommon in those who had been seriously ill during Covid-19 infection – of those who had been admitted to intensive care, 7% had a stroke and almost 2% were diagnosed with dementia.

“These are real-world data from a large number of patients. They confirm the high rates of psychiatric diagnoses after Covid-19, and show that serious disorders affecting the nervous system (such as stroke and dementia) occur too,” says lead author of the study from the University of Oxford UK, Professor Paul Harrison.

“Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic and that many of these conditions are chronic.

“As a result, health care systems need to be resourced to deal with the anticipated need, both within primary and secondary care services.”

Dr Max Taquet, a co-author of the study, from the University of Oxford UK, adds: “We now need to see what happens beyond six months. The study cannot reveal the mechanisms involved but does point to the need for urgent research to identify these, with a view to preventing or treating them.”

For more information and to read the study, visit: thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(21)00084-5/fulltext

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