Study finds 1 in 3 COVID-19 survivors suffer from neurological and psychiatric disorders

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Published April 8, 2021 at 5:06 pm

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There is new evidence to suggest there is a substantial risk of neurological and psychiatric outcomes in the 6 months after COVID-19 infection, according to a new study published Wednesday (Apr. 8) in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

Researchers scanned a database of over 81 million patients and found 236,379 patients diagnosed with COVID-19. They found that the virus was associated with an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric outcomes, which increased based on the severity of COVID-19 and whether hospitalization was required.

“The severity of COVID-19 had a clear effect on subsequent neurological diagnoses,” according to the study. “Overall, COVID-19 was associated with increased risk of neurological and psychiatric outcomes, but the incidences…  were greater in patients who had required hospitalization, and markedly so in those who had required [intensive care unit] admission…”

The study estimated the incidence of 14 neurological and psychiatric outcomes in the 6 months after a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, which included strokes, brain bleeding, muscle disease, dementia, psychosis, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, and insomnia.

Researchers then compared the prevalence of those outcomes with patients who had the flu or other respiratory tract infections.

According to the published data, those diagnosed with COVID-19 were nearly 34 per cent more likely to receive a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis in the following 6 months. For patients who had been admitted to an intensive care unit, the estimated incidence of a diagnosis was over 46 per cent.

“Risks were greatest in, but not limited to, patients who had severe COVID-19,” according to the report. “This information could help in service planning and identification of research priorities.”

Researchers added that “complementary study designs, including prospective cohorts, are needed to corroborate and explain these findings.”

The original study can be read online: thelancet.com/journals

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