Covid-19: one in five patients suffers from mental illness
British researchers say that one in five people who test positive for Covid-19 is diagnosed with a mental illness within 90 days.
After the main symptoms related to Covid-19 disappear, not all patients are out of danger. According to a recent study by British researchers, almost one in five patients develops psychological problems. Anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia, the diagnosis is usually made within 90 days of the positive test. Researchers say action is needed to ease the mental health cost of this global pandemic.
This analysis, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford and the NIHR Oxford Center for Health Biomedical Research and reported by The Guardian, also confirms that those with previously diagnosed mental illnesses were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid- 19 than the others. "This discovery was unexpected and requires investigation. Therefore, having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for Covid-19," said Dr. Max Taquet, an academic clinical investigator at the NIHR and one of the authors of analysis.
In this study, calculations were made based on approximately 70 million US medical records.The incidence of any mental illness diagnosis within 14 to 90 days of Covid-19 diagnosis was 18.1% , of which 5.8% was a first diagnosis. To go one step further, the researchers compared the data against six other factors: influenza, respiratory tract infections, skin infection, gallstones, urinary tract stones, and a large broken bone.
A direct effect on the virus in the brain?
In the three months following a Covid-19 diagnosis, 5.8% of patients had their first recorded diagnosis of psychiatric illness, compared with 2.5% to 3.4% of patients in the comparison cohorts , that is to say, almost double the risk, according to the article published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. For Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Oxford, more research is needed to determine whether a diagnosis of psychiatric disorder may be directly related to pollution. It specifies that certain factors such as the socio-economic context, smoking or drug use were not taken into account. "It is not at all implausible that Covid-19 could have a direct effect on your brain and your mental health. But I think that, again, this remains to be proven positively," said Paul Harrison.
Going to the hospital or seeing a doctor to get a diagnosis of Covid-19 can also help diagnose other pre-existing conditions like dementia, notes Professor Harrison. "That being said, it is not at all unlikely that there may also be a brain effect of the virus in some people causing some additional symptoms and neurological difficulties. We are therefore especially careful not to over-interpret this association," says Paul Harrison. More studies are being done to measure the impact of the virus on the brain and central nervous system.