According to a study by scientists at Oxford University and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Center, one-fifth of patients who contracted Covid-19 developed psychiatric disorders within three months of infection. The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry on November 10 and reported in The Guardian.
18% of Covid-19 patients suffer from mental illness within three months of infection.
To reach this conclusion, experts from Oxford University and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Center used the medical records of 69 million Americans, including 62,354 cases of Covid-19, which did not require hospitalization or emergency visits.
The results showed that 18.1% of Covid-19 patients suffered from mental illness within 14 to 90 days of diagnosis. Of these, 5.8% were diagnosed for the first time. In other words, one in five people who caught the disease and were cured of it developed anxiety, depression, or insomnia within three months of infection.
To find out whether the risk of developing a mental illness can be linked to Covid-19, researchers analyzed the occurrence of these psychiatric disorders in patients with six other conditions, including influenza, skin infections, large bone fractures, gallstones, and other respiratory tract infections. According to the analyses, 8% of patients were diagnosed for the first time with a psychiatric illness within three months of infection, compared with 2.5% to 3.4% of patients who experienced the other six health conditions.
People with psychiatric disorders are 65% more likely to contract Covid-19
At the same time, the research team found that people with an earlier diagnosis of mental health were 65% more likely to be infected with the virus. According to Dr. Max Taquet, an NIHR university clinical investigator and one of the authors of the analysis, “This discovery was unexpected and needs to be investigated. In the meantime, the presence of psychiatric illness should be added to the list of risk factors for Covid-19.”
According to Paul Harrison, Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford University, it has not yet been proven that the diagnosis of a psychiatric illness could be related to infection by the virus. In his opinion, there is a need for further research, especially since certain factors were not taken into account in the study. These include socioeconomic background, smoking, and drug use. “It is by no means unlikely that Covid-19 could have a direct impact on your brain and mental health. But I think it still needs to be proven” said Harrison.