COVID Infection Linked to Slew of Mental Health Conditions

People who battled COVID-19 infection had a higher risk of multiple mental health conditions, a new study found.

Among those who survived the first 30 days of COVID-19 infection, there was a 60% (HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.55-1.66) increased risk for having any new mental health diagnosis or a new mental health-related drug prescription compared with those who were never infected, reported Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, of the VA Saint Louis Health Care System in Missouri, and colleagues.

This heightened risk was largely driven by an uptick in mental health-related drug prescriptions, which increased by 86% (HR 1.86, 95% CI 1.78-1.95), the group wrote in The BMJ.

Of note, this higher risk for new mental health disorders was evident even in those who weren’t hospitalized for COVID-19, the researchers noted.

In terms of the specific new mental health diagnoses, COVID-19 survivors saw significantly higher risks for developing anxiety disorders (HR 1.35, 95% CI 1.30-1.39), which included a higher risk for generalized anxiety disorder, mixed anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

Likewise, these individuals carried a higher risk for depressive disorders (HR 1.39, 95% CI 1.34-1.43), including both single episode and recurrent major depressive disorder, as well as suicidal ideation. There was also a 38% higher risk for developing stress and adjustment disorders, which included both acute stress and adjustment disorder and PTSD.

COVID-19 infection was also significantly related with new substance use disorders (HR 1.20, 95% CI 1.15-1.26). This increased risk encompassed a higher risk of new-onset illicit drug disorder, alcohol use disease, and opioid use disorder, as well as sedative or hypnotics use disorder.

During the post-acute phase following COVID-19 infection, people also saw an 80% higher risk for neurocognitive decline.

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