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Increased risk of psychiatric disorders after Covid-19

A recent study has shown that Covid -19 has increased the risk of psychiatric disorders. 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.

The recovered Covid patients developed mental problems like anxiety, depression and insomnia. Researchers have also found out the possibility of dementia.   

Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Britain’s Oxford University, warned that the health services need to be ready to provide care since the results are likely to underestimates the actual number of psychiatric patients.

Doctors and scientists around the world urgently need to investigate the causes and identify new treatments for mental illness after Covid-19, Prof Harrison said.

The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, analysed electronic health records of 69 million people in the United States, including more than 62,000 cases of Covid-19.

In the three months following testing positive for Covid-19, 1-in-5 survivors were recorded as having a first time diagnosis of anxiety, depression or insomnia.

This was about twice as likely as for other groups of patients in the same period, the researchers said.

The study also found that people with a pre-existing mental illness were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 than those without.

Mental health specialists have pointed out the possibility of Covid-19 affecting the brain and mind, by thus increasing the risk of a range of psychiatric illnesses.

Michael Bloomfield, a consultant psychiatrist at University College London noted that the psychological stressors associated with this particular pandemic combined with the physical effects of the illness caused the rise in these psychiatric issues.

Simon Wessely, regius professor of psychiatry at King’s College London, said the finding that those with mental health disorders are also at higher risk of getting Covid-19 echoed similar findings in previous infectious disease outbreaks.

He said Covid-19 affects the central nervous system and so it might directly increase subsequent disorders and also this risk is increased by previous ill health.

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