Covid: Catching virus can increase chance of mental health condition, study finds

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While the vast list of physical side effects of Covid are well-known, the impact the virus has on mental health is less spoken of. A study conducted by US researchers suggests that those who are positive or have had Covid in the past have an increased likelihood of suffering from anxiety and depression. The majority of those in the study were male with an average age of 63 as researchers used data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

The researchers analysed the data of 153,848 people who had suffered from Covid compared to 560,000 people with no history of the virus and a large control group from pre-pandemic times.

The results of the study suggested that those who have suffered from coronavirus are more susceptible to a host of mental health issues for up to a year after their positive test.

Mental health side-effects of Covid are shown to include anxiety, substance abuse, depression, and interrupted sleep.

According to experts, the research is supported by previous findings but has a longer follow up with participants tracked for a year.

People who had the virus displayed a 60 percent increased risk of developing a psychiatric or mental health diagnosis or needing a prescription for their mental health at the 12-month mark.

People were shown to be 39 percent higher for rates of depression after Covid and 55 percent more likely to use antidepressants while anxiety rates were up by 35 percent.

Sleeping disorders had less of an increase of 2.4 percent and substance use problems were increased after Covid by 0.4 percent.

Doctors have long suspected that the virus was connected to higher rates of mental health issues as well as not necessarily having had the virus but living during the time of Covid has severely impacted mental health.

Brittany LeMonda, PhD is a senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, and she said: “Covid-19 can result in psychological issues due to both pandemic stress and the physical effects of the disease.”

A different study conducted in the UK revealed that coronavirus has also been shown to increase the risk of dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A report in The Lancet in November said that 18 percent of Covid patients suffered from a mental health issue within three months of a positive test.

This risk was doubled compared to those who did not have the virus.

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President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Dr Adrian James spoke on the topic of mental health issues: “Many people face an uphill battle to rebuild their lives. 

“Treatment is vital but complicated by the reality that most people experiencing mental health difficulties after infection don’t seek help.

“Actively monitoring the recovery of patients through a ‘screen and treat’ programme can help make sure they get the right kind of mental health care at the right time.”

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