Researchers at the University of Oxford also found that people with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with the virus.
November 10, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
18 % of coronavirus patients analyzed in a massive scientific study developed mental health problems in the three months following the coronavirus diagnosis , with disorders such as anxiety, depression or insomnia.
Analysis by researchers from the University of Oxford and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Center suggests that action is needed to mitigate the mental health cost of the pandemic. According to their findings, 5% of positive cases had no similar antecedent when they were diagnosed with this type of psychic condition .
In addition, they observed that people with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those who did not , even taking into account known risk factors such as age, gender, race and underlying physical conditions.
The study was conducted with the analysis of 69 million electronic health records in the US, including 62,000 mild cases of covid-19. The incidence of any diagnosis of mental illness in the 14 to 90 days after the diagnosis of COVID-19 was 18.1%.
“ This finding was unexpected and needs to be investigated. In the meantime, having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for covid-19, “said researcher Max Taquet, a clinical scholar at NIHR and one of the authors of the analysis, cited by The Guardian .
To determine if this leap in diagnoses was linked to Covid-19, the researchers also compared the data with other conditions in the same period, such as the flu, respiratory and skin infections, kidney stones, or a large bone fracture. But the onset of mental disorders for the first time was almost double among coronavirus patients , while for those with a history of mental illness, contracting the coronavirus made them more likely to relapse or receive another psychiatric diagnosis.
Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Oxford, commented that there was a possibility that the general stressful environment of the pandemic played a role in these results, published in the Lancet Psychiatry.
Research shows that people from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to suffer from poor mental health . Poverty also increases exposure to the coronavirus, due to factors such as overcrowded homes and unsafe working conditions. However, they do not rule out that the disease itself has effects on the brain.
“We are not sure what is causing it,” Taquet told Sky News . As he indicated, it is “plausible” that COVID-19 could be affecting the brain – either directly like some viruses, or due to the dilation of blood vessels when the body has an inflammatory response. At the moment, the role of circumstantial factors, such as having to isolate yourself for weeks in solitude, is not clear . “It could also be that what we are seeing is not directly related to a change in the brain but rather to a change in the individual's psychology,” he added.
Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told Sky News , warning that there is growing evidence of the threat that COVID-19 poses to mental health: “The response to the growing mental health crisis demands urgent action and it must be at the center of the government's response to the pandemic. “