One in Five COVID-19 Patients Develops Mental Illness within 90 Days, Oxford Study Finds
Psychiatrists are paying more attention to the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on mental health, following striking findings from a new study.
The study revealed that one in five COVID-19 patients is typically diagnosed with a mental illness within 90 days after receiving treatment. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia were among the most common psychiatric diagnoses for the patients involved in the study.
Conducted by scientists from the University of Oxford and published in the medical journal The Lancet on Monday, the study aimed to determine if a COVID-19 diagnosis increased a person’s risk of mental illness.
The scientists analyzed medical records of 69 million U.S. residents, including over 62,000 people who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The results showed that 20% of people who had tested positive for the coronavirus were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia for the first time after their COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment.
Patients were typically flagged for mental health issues between 14 and 90 days after testing positive for COVID-19.
More severe psychotic disorders were also reported by the study, but they were much less likely to be diagnosed. Dementia was reported in a few cases of patients aged 65 or older.
The study also found another link between mental illness and the coronavirus. Individuals with pre-existing mental illnesses were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those without diagnosed psychiatric disorders.
The risk of COVID-19 also increased when patients received a psychiatric disorder diagnosis in the year before testing positive for the coronavirus. Scientists said that these risks were not explicitly linked to physical risks but could be related to socioeconomic factors.
Other researchers commented on the alarming nature of the study but said it could be due to various other factors.
Doctors told Reuters that the impact on mental health could be due to the psychological stress of the ongoing pandemic, the physical effects of the disease, or the impact of COVID-19 on the central nervous system.
Another scientist from King’s College London told AlJazeera that the increased risk of psychiatric diagnoses followed the data from previous outbreaks of infectious diseases.