Survivors of Covid-19 show increased rate of psychiatric disorders, study finds‎

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More than half of people who received hospital treatment for Covid-19 were found to be suffering from a psychiatric disorder a month later, a study has found.‎‎

Out of 402 patients monitored after being treated for the virus, 55% were found to have at least one psychiatric disorder, experts from San Raffaele hospital in Milan found. The results, based on clinical interviews and self-assessment questionnaires, showed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 28% of cases, depression in 31% and anxiety in 42%. Additionally, 40% of patients had insomnia and 20% had obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms.‎‎

The findings will increase concerns about the psychological effects of the virus. The paper, published on Monday in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, says: “PTSD, major depression, and anxiety are all high-burden non-communicable conditions associated with years of life lived with disability.‎

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“Considering the alarming impact of Covid-19 infection on mental health, the current insights on inflammation in psychiatry, and the present observation of worse inflammation leading to worse depression, we recommend to assess psychopathology of Covid-19 survivors and to deepen research on inflammatory biomarkers, in order to diagnose and treat emergent psychiatric conditions.”‎

The study of 265 men and 137 women found that women – who are less likely to die from Covid than men – suffered more than men psychologically. Patients with positive previous psychiatric diagnoses suffered more than those without a history of psychiatric disorder.

The researchers, led by Dr Mario Gennaro Mazza, said these results were consistent with previous epidemiological studies.‎

They said psychiatric effects could be caused “by the immune response to the virus itself, or by psychological stressors such as social isolation, psychological impact of a novel severe and potentially fatal illness, concerns about infecting others, and stigma.”

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Outpatients showed increased anxiety and sleep disturbances, while – perhaps surprisingly – the duration of hospitalisation inversely correlated with symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and OC.‎

The researchers said: “Considering the worse severity of Covid-19 in hospitalised patients, this observation suggests that less healthcare support could have increased the social isolation and loneliness typical of Covid-19 pandemics.”

They said their findings mirrored those from previous studies in outbreaks of coronaviruses, including Sars, where the psychiatric morbidities ranged from 10% to 35% in the post-illness stage.‎

There have been warnings from UK experts about brain disorders in Covid-19 patients. Problems including brain inflammation, stroke and psychosis have been linked to the virus.‎‎

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Source: theguardian.com ‎

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