A third of coronavirus patients were found to be suffering from psychiatric or brain problems within six months of their COVID-19 diagnosis, according to a study published Tuesday.
The researchers analyzed the health records of 236,379 COVID patients, mostly from the US, and found that 34 percent had been diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric disorders six months later.
About one in eight of the patients, or 12.8 percent, was first diagnosed with such a disease, the study showed.
Anxiety, at 17 percent, and depression or mood disorders, at 14 percent, were the most common diagnoses, according to the research.
Cases of post-COVID stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer, but still significant, especially in people who had been seriously ill with the virus, the scientists said.
Among those who had been admitted to intensive care with the coronavirus, 7 percent suffered a stroke within six months. Almost 2 percent were diagnosed with dementia, the study found.
The disorders were significantly more common in COVID patients than in comparison groups of people who recovered from the flu or other respiratory infections during the same time period.
“Our results indicate that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after COVID-19 than after influenza or other respiratory infections,” said Max Taquet, a psychiatrist at the University of Oxford in Great Britain, who co-led the work.
The study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry, was unable to determine how the virus is related to psychiatric conditions, Taquet said, adding that urgent research is needed to identify the mechanisms involved.
The researchers also suggested that the pandemic could bring a wave of mental and neurological problems.
“Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect on the entire population can be substantial,” said Paul Harrison, an Oxford professor of psychiatry who co-led the work.
With cable poles