One in three Covid-19 patients have received a brain or psychiatric disorder diagnosis within six months of contracting the virus, a study has found, prompting renewed fears of a wave of mental ill-health diagnoses as we emerge from the pandemic.
Mental health after Covid
According to the Oxford University-led study of more than 230,000 mostly US-based coronavirus patients, anxiety (17%) and depression (14%) were the most prevalent diagnoses of mental health disorders after Covid-19.
There was also evidence of stroke (7%) and dementia (2%), especially among those who had severe Covid-19 symptoms.
Thirty-four per cent had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within six months of contracting Covid-19, the study, published by the Lancet Psychiatry journal online, found. The likelihood of diagnosis was greater among those that required hospitalisation for Covid-19 symptoms – especially those who had been in intensive care units.
“Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial,” Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford University, told Reuters.
The study concluded that, as Covid-19 is followed by significant rates of neurological and psychiatric diagnoses, health services need to be configured and resourced to deal with this anticipated need.
A separate study by Imperial College London and the University of Southampton, published earlier this year, found that a third of Covid-19 patients who had been put on a ventilator experienced post-traumatic stress disorder.