From a dry cough to a loss of sense of smell, coronavirus is known to be associated with a range of unpleasant symptoms. Now, a new study has warned that having Covid-19 also increases your risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Scientists from the University of Oxford analysed electronic health records of 69 million people in the USA, including over 62,000 Covid-19 patients.
Their analysis revealed that in the three months following a positive Covid-19 test, 1 in 5 survivors were found to get a diagnosis of anxiety, depression or insomnia for the first time.
That’s about twice as likely as for people without Covid-19, according to the researchers.
Covid-19 was also found to be linked with new psychiatric diagnoses in people who already had a history of psychiatric problems. Professor Paul Harrison, who led the study, said: “People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings in a large and detailed study show this to be likely.
Covid 19 Time Series
“Services need to be ready to provide care, especially since our results are likely to be underestimates of the actual number of cases. We urgently need research to investigate the causes and identify new treatments.”
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The analysis also found that people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders were 65% morel likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 than those without.
Dr Max Taquet, who worked on the study, said: “This finding was unexpected and needs investigation. In the meantime, having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for COVID-19.”
While the reason for the link remains unclear, experts suggest that it’s likely due to a combination of factors.
Dr Michael Bloomfield, Head of Translational Psychiatry Research Group and Consultant Psychiatrist at University College London (UCL), who was not involved in the study, said: “This well conducted study adds to a growing body of evidence that COVID increases the risk of a range of psychiatric illnesses including post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This is likely due to a combination of the psychological stressors associated with this particular pandemic and the physical effects of the illness, although further work is needed to understand this fully.”