One in five COVID-19 patients develop mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, and insomnia within 90 days
- A study by the University of Oxford found one in five COVID-19 patients develop mental health conditions within 90 days of contracting the virus. They had no mental illness prior to getting COVID-19.
- The study, published in The Lancet, also found people with previous psychiatric disorders were 65% more likely to develop COVID-19.
- Anxiety disorders, depression, and insomnia were the most common disorders reported after people developed the disease.
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People across the world have been experiencing a higher level of stress due to the pandemic, but researchers at the University of Oxford have found the link between COVID-19 and mental illness may be more direct than initially thought.
A study published in The Lancet found one in five people diagnosed with COVID-19 developed some form of mental illness 90 days after being diagnosed with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The patients had not had mental health disorders prior to contracting the coronavirus.
The study analyzed data from 69 million people in the United States, 62,000 of whom were COVID-19 patients.
Anxiety disorders, depression, and insomnia were the most common disorders reported after people developed the disease.
The virus attacks the central nervous system
The authors of the study said they were unsure why the virus would increase mental health problems in people with otherwise no history of mental illness, and that more research is needed.
Simon Wessely, a psychiatry professor at King's College London who was not involved in the study, told Reuters the link between mental health and COVID-19 might be explained by how COVID-19 attacks the central nervous system.
Michael Bloomfield, a consultant psychiatrist at University College London, added the effects of the coronavirus coupled with the external stress of the pandemic might be why this correlation between COVID-19 and mental illness exists.
"This is likely due to a combination of the psychological stressors associated with this particular pandemic and the physical effects of the illness," Bloomfield told Reuters.
Previous research found COVID-19 can lead to lasting cognitive effects
Mental health consequences aren't the only neurological symptoms exhibited by COVID-19 patients.
A study published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology in October found 80% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological symptoms like muscle aches, dizziness, and confusion. It also found one-third of COVID-19 patients sustained encephalopathy, a broad term for damage to the brain.
The study published in The Lancet found that in addition to mental illness, people over the age of 65 who developed COVID-19 were more likely to receive their first diagnosis of dementia, a neurological disorder, within 90 days.
People with previous mental illness were 65% more likely to develop COVID-19
The study authors said they were also surprised to find how vulnerable mental illness made people to contracting COVID-19.
People who had mental health conditions prior to the pandemic were 65% more likely to develop COVID-19.
"This is important when we think of the people at risk which should receive the vaccine first. It might be that a history of mental illness should be considered in this decision," Dr. Maxime Taquet, lead author of the study, told Insider.
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