About a third of COVID-19 survivors have long-term brain or psychiatric disorders, a study recently published in the legendary health journal found. Lancet Psychiatry.
With a particular focus on 14 neurological and mental illnesses, the researchers analyzed more than 236,000 patients diagnosed with the virus over a six-month period and found that 34% of them also had a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis. For 13% of these patients, it was their first recorded neurological or mental health diagnosis.
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In addition, survivors were at the highest risk of developing anxiety (17%) or mood disorders (14%), according to the scientists. There were also risks for substance use disorders, insomnia, dementia, or stroke, although these risks were significantly lower.
“While the individual risks of most diseases are small, the impacts on the health and welfare system as a whole, due to the scale of the pandemic and the fact that many of these diseases are chronic, can be significant,” said Paul Harrison, lead author the study said in a statement. “As a result, health systems must have the resources to meet anticipated needs within both primary and secondary care.”
The researchers also concluded that COVID-19 increased the “risk of neurological and psychiatric outcomes” in hospitalized patients and that the virus’ impact on those outcomes was greater than that of influenza or infection Airways.
The study seemed to confirm an earlier report claiming that surviving Covid-19 patients were at increased risk of the disorder within the first three months after infection.
“This is a very important article,” Simon Wessely, Chair of Psychiatry at King’s College London, told Reuters after the latest study was published. “It unequivocally confirms that COVID-19 affects both the brain and the spirit alike.”