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COVID-19 patients often have lingering bouts of depression or anxiety

Posted at 10:43 AM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 13:09:07-04

SALT LAKE CITY — One-third of COVID-19 patients still experience depression, anxiety, or even dementia six months after their diagnosis, according to a study published on April 6 in The Lancet Psychiatry, reports STAT news.

These illnesses were mostly mood disorders, but also included strokes and dementia. For one is eight patients, this was the first time for such a diagnosis.

READ: COVID-19 pandemic affects mental health

Significantly, these disorders were found to be almost twice as high in COVID-19 patients than people who had the flu or other respiratory infections.

Data from millions of people were analyzed in the study, and while anxiety, mood, and substance abuse were the most common brain disorders, those severely ill with COVID-19 had more serious conditions, such as brain hemorrhages, strokes, and dementia, though at a lower rate.

These findings highlight a need for more research to understand how and why this is happening, and what can be done to prevent it, according to study co-author Max Taquet, a clinical fellow in psychiatry at the University of Oxford.

Yet some scientists cautioned that people should not be overly alarmed about the risk of stroke, as that is still "fairly uncommon," according to Allison Navis, lead clinical neurologist at the Icahn School of Medicine's Mount Sinai post-COVID clinic.

People with very severe COVID-19 cases had a higher risk of serious complications, but those with depression or anxiety were found across the spectrum.

It was also difficult to determine if a patient who previously had a stroke was going to have another anyway or whether COVID-19 caused it, according to Masud Husain, another co-author of the study and professor of neurology and cognitive neuroscience at Oxford.

This study confirms the findings of earlier studies that found that those with COVID-19 could suffer from mental health or neurological disorders long after the initial diagnosis, but researchers believe that the full impact of the virus will need to be studied for quite some time.

Learn more about this study here.