Coronavirus patients have an increased risk of mental health problems

Oxford, UK - One in three coronavirus sufferers experienced subsequent mental health problems in a new study that compared Covid-19 with other respiratory illnesses.

One-third of patients who had Covid-19 have suffered from mental illness afterwards (stock image).
One-third of patients who had Covid-19 have suffered from mental illness afterwards (stock image).  © 123rf/Siam Pukkato

Lancet Psychiatry journal published a study on Tuesday which found that patients with Covid-19 were more likely to have neurological or psychological problems as compared with people with similar infections.

About one-third of the overall people studied experienced neurological or mental illness within six months of being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Researchers also found a 44% higher risk of anxiety disorders and mood swings after coronavirus than with other similar viruses, like the flu.

"Covid-19 is followed by significant rates of neurological and psychiatric diagnoses over the subsequent six months," said co-author Max Taquet of Oxford University.

"Brain disease and psychiatric disorders are more common," he added.

The research team noted that the exact reasons are still unclear and that longer-term data is needed.

236,000 patients were analyzed through digital data, most of whom were treated in the US.

The most common diagnoses in the post-coronavirus patients studied were anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and insomnia. In a few rare cases, some patients suffered from a stroke or brain hemorrhage.

It's important that social and mental health services are put into place "to deal with this anticipated need," the researchers said.

Lockdowns have caused a rise in anxiety and depression

The consequences of isolation from lockdowns and quarantines have caused anxiety and depression to rise during the pandemic.

Past studies have found a connection between other neurological diseases and respiratory infection, but Covid-19 and its variants are relatively new to science data.

The Oxford researchers pointed out that although it is clear mental illness has climbed, more research is needed about post-Covid effects on brain health.

Cover photo: 123rf/Siam Pukkato

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