Study suggests COVID patients more susceptible to mental illness

Twenty-four percent of Black adults lived in households that were behind on rent payments. And approximately one-third of African Americans shared a home with someone expected to lose employment income this month. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Medical and scientific experts have sounded the alarm, wanting people to understand that COVID is not the flu or a common cold, and recovery may not be permanent.

According to a new study, 20% of recovering coronavirus patients develop some form of mental illness within 90 days.

Researchers at Oxford University in Great Britain noted that first-time diagnosis of anxiety, depression, and insomnia increased two-fold in patients after they’ve recovered from COVID.

Further, they discovered that COVID survivors also found significantly higher risks of dementia.

“People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings show this to be likely,” said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford.

“(Health) services need to be ready to provide care, especially since our results are likely to be underestimates (of the number of psychiatric patients).”

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

The findings are likely to be the same for those afflicted by COVID-19 worldwide, the Oxford researchers noted, according to Reuters.

In the three months following testing positive for COVID, one in five survivors were recorded as having a first-time diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or insomnia—about twice as likely as for other groups of patients in the same period, the researchers said.

The study further revealed that people with a pre-existing mental illness were 65 percent more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those without.

More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and over 238,000 have died.

African Americans comprise more than 20% of the total deaths in the United States.

Blacks and other communities of color continue to suffer disproportionately from the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Urban Institute.

Over one-quarter of adults in Black households surveyed between August 19-31 used savings or sold assets to meet economic needs on the previous week.

Twenty-four percent of Black adults lived in households that were behind on rent payments. And approximately one-third of African Americans shared a home with someone expected to lose employment income this month.

“COVID-19 affects the central nervous system, and so might directly increase subsequent disorders,” Simon Wessely, regius professor at King’s College London, told Reuters.

“But this research confirms that is not the whole story, and that this risk is increased by previous ill health.”

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