COVID-19 survivors are more susceptible to mental illness

A large US retrospective cohort study that analysed over 62,000 COVID-19 positive patients found that survivors had a 20% increased risk of developing a psychiatric condition within 90 days of their COVID-19 diagnosis. This risk was relative to 6 other health events including influenza, other respiratory tract infections, skin infection, cholelithiasis, urolithiasis, and large bone fractures. The median age of the patients was 49.3 years and 45.1% were male.

Anxiety, depression and insomnia were among the most common psychiatric conditions. For 5.8% of patients, it was their first psychiatric diagnosis and 25.6% of patients already had a psychiatric condition at the time of their COVID-19 diagnosis. Conversely, those with preexisting psychiatric illness in the previous year were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those who did not.

Why it matters: The study adds to growing evidence that COVID-19 is associated with increased the risk of psychiatric illness and highlights the urgency to investigate causes and new treatments. It is also important for clinicians and healthcare services to be aware and prepared in handling first-time sufferers as well as those with relapsed mental illnesses amid the pandemic.

Source: The Lancet Psychiatry