A new study published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal has found that 34% of COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within 6 months, suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a wave of mental and neurological problems. The study analysed health records of 236,379 COVID-19 patients, mostly from the United States and found that one in three COVID-19 survivors in a study were diagnosed with such disorders within six months. A previous study done in 2020 by the same researchers found that 20% of COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within three months.
These conditions were significantly more common in COVID-19 patients than in comparison groups of people who recovered from flu or other respiratory infections over the same time period, the scientists said, suggesting COVID-19 had a specific impact.
Anxiety and mood disorders were the most common (17% and 14% respectively), and did not appear to be related to how mild or severe the patient’s COVID-19 infection had been. Among those who had been admitted to intensive care with severe COVID-19, 7% had a stroke within six months, and almost 2% were diagnosed with dementia.
“This is a very important paper. It confirms beyond any reasonable doubt that COVID-19 affects both brain and mind in equal measure,” said Simon Wessely, chair of psychiatry at King’s College London.
We are living in unprecedented times. If you or a loved one is feeling anxious, depressed, excessively irritable/angry or low mood, seek help from your healthcare practitioner.