1 in 5 COVID-19 patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders within 90 days, study finds
A new study published in Lancet Psychiatry medical journal shows may be linked to a range of mental health effects in patients.
According to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, a diagnosis of COVID-19 was associated with an increased incidence of diagnoses of several psychiatric disorders and disorders, including anxiety, insomnia and dementia.
Researchers said the mental health consequences of having COVID-19 have not yet been accurately measured – but have been widely predicted.
“We were primarily interested in whether people diagnosed with COVID-19 were at greater risk of developing mental health disorders,” Oxford University professor Paul Harrison told CBS News, who worked on the study.
Researchers sought to answer this question by looking at the rates of psychiatric diagnoses in patients during the three months following their diagnosis of COVID-19, Harrison said.
The group used the TriNetX Analysis Network, which collects data from electronic medical records of 54 healthcare organizations in the United States. This includes data on 69.8 million patients – of which 62,354 were diagnosed with COVID-19 between January 20 and August 1. They then looked at how many of these patients had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.
For comparison, the researchers also measured the rate of diagnoses of psychiatric disorders in patients who had suffered six other health problems such as the flu, respiratory tract infections or a major bone fracture.
“It’s important to try to find out whatitself or what could be due to the environment we live in, ”explained Harrison.
The researchers looked for diagnoses of dementia, insomnia, anxiety and mood disorders in COVID-19 patients as well as those diagnosed with the other six health conditions, which served as a control group.
“Within 90 days of diagnosis, about 18% or almost 1 in 5 people who had COVID received a psychiatric diagnosis of one type or another – the highest being an anxiety disorder,” Harrison said.
He said about 6% of COVID-19 patients who had never been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder before received one within three months of getting COVID-19. The most common, again, was anxiety.
Harrison said there are two probable causes of psychiatric disorders associated with COVID-19. “One possibility is that there might be a direct effect of the virus producing the symptoms. Perhaps what the virus might be doing in some people’s brains, or how some people’s immune systems reacted to fight the virus. virus, ”he said.
“There are hints that this could be a biological explanation for some people.”
The other possible cause may be the psychological reactions people have when diagnosed with the virus, Harrison said.
“People’s psychological reactions to COVID, having worried about their lives perhaps for the first time, worrying about the future – in a way, COVID is just acting like another major stressful event, rather that as a direct viral effect, ”he said. noted.
Compared to the other six illnesses and health events, COVID-19 has led to more early diagnoses of psychiatric disorders, according to the study.
“It is possible to speculate that right now you are more stressed when someone tells you that you have COVID than you would be if someone told you that you have most of the other issues with you,” he said. Harrison said, adding that it’s too hard to know if this is a specific reason.
Harrison said there were still questions to be answered after the Oxford study. He also said he suspected people diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder after being diagnosed with COVID-19 of recovering from it.
“If you look at almost every other cause of anxiety and depression that I can think of, a significant proportion of people get better, either over time and / or with treatment,” he said. “In my own clinical practice, in the COVID survivors that I have seen, I have certainly seen some people who are clearly improving and others who are clearly not.”
“I suspect there will be a range of results and we will need longer term studies where we can actually measure that over time,” he continued.
Harrison said the second part of the Oxford study was to ask: Are people who already have a psychiatric diagnosis more at risk of getting COVID-19 than people without a psychiatric diagnosis?
“To my surprise, the answer is yes,” Harrison said. “People who received a psychiatric diagnosis in the year before COVID arrived… they were about 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID than people without a psychiatric diagnosis. “
Harrison said he and his colleagues were puzzled by the discovery. “Is it just because people with psychiatric problems also tend to have more serious physical health problems? He asked himself.
To determine this, the group of researchers checked for physical health factors – and the effect didn’t go away. “So there appears to be a link between having a psychiatric diagnosis and your risk for COVID-19,” Harrison said.
“Much like the first part of the study, there are really two explanations for this,” he continued. “One is that there is a link between the factors that make you vulnerable to psychiatric illnesses and the factors that make you vulnerable to COVID. For example, he explained, inflammation could play a role in both of these conditions.
But other factors that are difficult to measure, such as lifestyle or behavior, can play a role in both psychiatric illnesses and other illnesses like COVID-19. “This could explain why they are more vulnerable to the capture of COVID,” he said. “To take a simple possibility, they may live in slightly more crowded circumstances and therefore have a higher chance of catching the virus.”
“The important thing is whether or not he may have a psychiatric illness that puts you at risk for COVID, it could be one of those related factors,” Harrison said.
Another study published in Lancet Psychiatry newspaper in June examined 153 patients hospitalized for severe cases of COVID-19 to see if they have experienced any neurological and psychiatric complications associated with the virus. The study found than 125 of the patients did.
Over 60% of patients have had a stroke, the majority of which occurred in patients 60 years of age or older.
About a third of the patients presented with “an altered mental state such as brain inflammation, psychosis and dementia-like symptoms,” according to the June study. This includes signs of confusion or changes in behavior.
Almost a quarter of patients with altered mental status have been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, the “vast majority” of which were found to be newly developed. However, researchers say it is possible that some simply weren’t diagnosed until the patient developed the virus.