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COVID-19 infection increases risk of mental health outcomes

A new study published in the British Medical Journal reports on the risks of negative mental health outcomes in patients who had COVID-19 infection. 

Researchers compared information from patients who survived SARS-CoV-2 infection with a group of people who had not been infected with the virus. The researchers also compared this information with a ‘historical control’ group – information from a group of people that was collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This group was used to compare mental health outcomes to people who had not experienced the pandemic.

The study reported that patients with COVID-19 had an increase in the risk of mental health disorders, which included anxiety, depressive disorders, stress and adjustment disorders, opioid and other substance use disorders, neurocognitive or sleep problems. The risks were noted to be higher in patients who were admitted to hospital. 

The researchers then compared the patients who recovered from COVID-19 with patients who recovered from seasonal flu. They found that COVID-19 infection was associated with an increase in the risk of mental health outcomes compared with seasonal flu. These results were true regardless of whether or not patients were admitted to hospital with COVID-19. 

According to the researchers, the “results should be used to promote awareness of the increased risk of mental health disorders among survivors of acute covid-19 and call for the integration of mental healthcare as a core component of post-acute covid-19 care strategies. International bodies, national governments, and health systems must develop and implement strategies for early identification and treatment of affected individuals.”

Reference: Xie, Y., Xu, Evan., Al-Aly, Ziyad. Risks of mental health outcomes in people with covid-19: cohort study. BMJ 2022; 376 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-068993 

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay 

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