Mental health impact of Covid-19 studied

Contracting Covid-19 is “robustly associated” with an increased risk of developing mental health and neurological conditions in the six months after a diagnosis, a study suggests.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 3:02 pm

Researchers at the University of Oxford looked at the TriNetX electronic 2020 health records of more than 230,000 Covid-19 patients, mostly from the US.

Their study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal and said to be the largest of its kind to date, estimated that one in three Covid-19 survivors was diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months of being infected.

For 13 per cent of people it was their first recorded neurological or psychiatric diagnosis, researchers found.

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The findings also suggested that the incidence of such conditions rose with the severity of a coronavirus case, with a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis occurring in 39 per cent of those who were admitted to hospital, 46 per cent of those in intensive care, and 62 per cent in those who had encephalopathy – described as “delirium and other altered mental states” – during their Covid-19 infection.

When comparing the data with a control group and taking into account underlying health characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, and existing health conditions, researchers also found that, overall, there was a 44 per cent greater risk of neurological and mental health diagnoses after Covid-19 than after contracting flu, and a 16 per cent greater risk after Covid-19 than with other respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia.

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