One third of COVID survivors suffer from mental and neurological problems


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.

The nurse treats a Covid-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California on January 11, 2021.
A nurse treats a Covid-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, on January 11, 2021.
ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP via Getty Images

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.

Dr. Neil Hecht and his wife Mindy Cross are seen in treatment on January 3, 2021, they will recover at home after battling Covid-19 for twelve days at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California.
Dr. Neil Hecht and his wife Mindy Cross are seen on January 3, 2021. They will recover at home after battling Covid-19 for twelve days at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in California.
APU GOMES / AFP via Getty Images

“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.

Daniel Kim speaks with staff prior to his departure from St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA, on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
Daniel Kim speaks with staff prior to his departure from St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA, on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
Paul Bersebach / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images

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

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