A new study reports that approximately one in five Covid-19 patients are diagnosed with a mental illness within three months of receiving a positive coronavirus diagnosis.
The study, conducted by the University of Oxford and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, found that illnesses like anxiety, depression, and insomnia were most commonly diagnosed in Covid-19 patients 90 days after testing positive for the virus.
The study also showed that people who already have a mental health diagnosis are 65% more likely to contract coronavirus compared to those without the diagnoses, even when accounting for other factors like age, race, sex, and other underlying conditions.
Dr. Max Taquet, an academic clinical fellow at NIHR and one of the study’s authors told The Guardian, “This finding was unexpected and needs investigation.” Dr. Taquet went on to say that “having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for Covid-19.”
The study also shows that Covid-19 survivors may be at increased risk of developing mental health illnesses as a result of battling the virus.
Covid-19 patients received their first mental health diagnosis within 90 days of their Covid diagnosis at a rate of 5.8% compared to 2.5% and 3.4% of influenza and respiratory tract infection patients, respectively.
The study included health records from about 70 million patients in the US, 62,000 of those records from Covid-19 patients who were not hospitalized.
Researchers say that more research is needed to draw a clearer line between the relationship with Covid-19 and mental health disorder diagnoses. This study did not include some factors such as socioeconomic status, drug use or smoking habits.
Available data about socioeconomic background, mental health and covid begins to fill in the blanks, however, as research suggests that people from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to experience mental health illness, and that poverty increases risk of exposure to Covid-19.
As surges around the country continue, this research will be necessary in making efforts to slow down the spread of the virus and establish preventative measures, especially for those most vulnerable.
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