People infected with Covid-19 had a roughly 25 per cent increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder in the four months following their infection, compared with those who had other types of respiratory tract infections, finds a study.
Researchers at Oregon State University in the US found that Covid patients had a 3.8 per cent rate of developing a psychiatric disorder compared with 3.0 per cent for other respiratory tract infections. The 0.8 per cent difference amounts to about a 25 per cent increased relative risk.
The team looked specifically at anxiety disorders and mood disorders and found a minor but significant increase in risk for anxiety disorders and no change in risk for mood disorders.
The results speak to the need for both patients and health care providers to be more proactive when it comes to addressing mental health concerns following Covid infection, said Lauren Chan, doctoral student in nutrition in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
"For people that have had Covid, if you're feeling anxiety, if you're seeing some changes in how you're going through life from a psychiatric standpoint, it's totally appropriate for you to seek some help," Chan said.
For the study, published in the journal World Psychiatry, researchers included data of 46,610 Covid-19 positive individuals and control patients who were diagnosed with a different respiratory tract infection so they could compare how Covid specifically affected patients' mental health.
They looked at the rate of psychiatric diagnoses for two time periods: from 21 to 120 days after patients' Covid diagnosis, and from 120 to 365 days after diagnosis, limited to patients with no previous mental illness.
When patients leave a doctor's office, sometimes care stops there, but Chan recommended that providers consider calling in two weeks for a check-in.
"I don't want to say that every single person who gets Covid is going to have this type of problem, but if you start to have concern for yourself or a family member, it's not unheard of. You should definitely seek care for yourself or others around you," Chan said.
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