Within 90 days of testing positive for COVID-19, a person has high risk of developing a mental illness: Oxford

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While physical symptoms and side effects of COVID-19 have been widely researched and reported about, there haven’t been many studies that talk about the mental effects of this virus. A new Oxford study has found that in the three months after a person has been tested positive for COVID-19, they have a higher risk of developing some sort of mental illness.

This study also talks about those people who have a pre-existing psychiatric disorder, they have a 65 percent higher chance of contracting and being tested positive for COVID-19.

Researchers from Oxford University, the Department of Psychiatry and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre looked at the TriNetX electronic health records of 69 million people in the USA. These records include over 62,000 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed between 20 January and 1 August 2020.

The results from this study have been published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The study found that one in five COVID-19 survivors, in the three months since they were tested, were diagnosed with either anxiety, depression, or insomnia. However, one in four of these people had no history of a pre-existing mental illness before COVID-19

The researchers also found that there was a higher risk of dementia in those who recover from the virus.

According to a statement from the university, almost 20 percent of people received a psychiatric diagnosis within 90 days of being tested positive for COVID-19.

Reuters reported that other mental health specialists who were not involved in the study said these findings add to the growing evidence that COVID-19 can affect the brain and mind, increasing the risk of a range of psychiatric illnesses.

“People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings … show this to be likely,” Paul Harrison, the lead researcher and a professor of psychiatry at Oxford said in a statement

“(Health) services need to be ready to provide care, especially since our results are likely to be underestimates of the actual number of cases. We urgently need research to investigate the causes and identify new treatments,” he added.

Dr Max Taquet, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, who conducted the analyses, said in a statement,”Having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for COVID-19.’

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