According to a report released Tuesday, one in every three individuals who contracted the COVID-19 virus showed symptoms of a mental or neurological disorder within six months of their diagnosis.
The report, which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry on Tuesday, found that about a third of those infected with the COVID-19 virus developed signs of mental disease or neurological condition within six months of their diagnosis.
“We need urgent research to better understand how and why does this occur in patients with COVID-19, and how they can be treated and [how to] prevent it,” Max Taquet, a clinical fellow in psychiatry at the University of Oxford and a study co-author, said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. “But we think that regardless of the explanation, health services need to be prepared for the increased demand that this data is showing.”
The report looked at evidence from 81 million individuals in the United States to see if there were any cases with 13 different types of brain diseases. According to the findings, anxiety, mood, and alcohol use disorders were the most frequently diagnosed disorders in COVID-19 patients.
Researchers also contrasted the health histories of 236,379 individuals who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 to those of patients who had been diagnosed with the flu, another number who had been diagnosed with lung illness, and a third group who had been treated with unrelated illnesses including fractured bones.
Patients that had a more severe virus infection had more serious neurological problems, according to the findings. Those who had serious complications from the infection were more likely to have neurological conditions such as stroke, brain bleeding, and dementia. The incidence of such diseases, according to the researchers, is very limited.
Researchers discovered that 12.8 percent of people infected with the COVID-19 virus had never been diagnosed with psychological or neurological illnesses before. For the other classes, the percentage of first-time diagnoses was roughly half that.
According to one researcher who talked with STAT News, the findings must be put into perspective.
“It does highlight that there is something unique going on with COVID,” Allison Navis, assistant professor in the division of neuro-infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told STAT. Navis was not involved in the Lancet study.
“And the 12.8% who have a new diagnosis of something neuropsychiatric can sound very sensational,” Nevus said.
“That 12.8% encompasses depression and anxiety, so it’s extremely important to not minimize that and not make that sound like a lesser diagnosis at all, but the more severe things like strokes are still fairly uncommon. I don’t want people thinking that one in 10 people get a stroke with COVID,” Nevus added.
Although researchers observed an uptick in COIVD-19 diagnoses for the first time, they also suggested that concern about the novel coronavirus may lead to depression and anxiety.
“It could be psychological factors and biological factors and psychosocial factors, such as, for instance, the need to isolate and the loss of income as a result of that,” Taquet said on the call to reporters.