Washington: COVID-19 is associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance use, and sleep disorders, up to one year after the viral infection, according to a US study. The findings, published inThe BMJ on Wednesday (February 16), suggest that tackling mental health disorders among survivors of COVID-19 should be a priority. More than 403 million people globally and 77 million in the US have been infected with the virus since the pandemic started. “To put this in perspective, COVID-19 infections likely have contributed to more than 14.8 million new cases of mental health disorders worldwide and 2.8 million in the US,” said senior author of the study Ziyad Al-Aly, referring to data from the study.
Our calculations do not account for the untold number of people, likely in the millions, who suffer in silence due to mental health stigma or a lack of resources or support, Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University, said.
The researchers used data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs national healthcare databases to estimate the risks of mental health outcomes in people who survived at least 30 days after a positive PCR test result between March 2020 and January 2021.
They compared mental health outcomes in the COVID-19 dataset with two other groups of people not infected with the virus: a control group of more than 5.6 million patients who did not have COVID-19 during the same time frame; and a control group of over 5.8 million patients from March 2018 through January 2019, well before the pandemic began.
The majority of study participants were older white males. However, because of its large size, the study included more than 1.3 million females, more than 2.1 million Black participants, and large numbers of people of various ages.
The COVID-19 group was further divided into those who were or were not admitted to hospital during the acute phase of infection.
Information was also collected on potentially influential factors including age, race, sex, lifestyle, and medical history.
The researchers then followed all three groups for one year to estimate the risks of prespecified mental health outcomes, including anxiety, depression and stress disorders, substance use disorders, neurocognitive decline, and sleep disorders. Compared with the non-infected control group, people with COVID-19 showed a 60 per cent higher risk of any mental health diagnosis or prescription at one year.
When the researchers examined mental health disorders separately, they found that COVID-19 was associated with an additional 24 per 1,000 people with sleep disorders at one year, 15 per 1,000 with depressive disorders, 11 per 1,000 with neurocognitive decline, and 4 per 1,000 with any substance use disorders.
Similar results were found when the COVID-19 group was compared with the historical control group.
The risks were highest in people admitted to hospital during the initial phase of COVID-19, but were evident even among those who were not admitted to hospital.
People with COVID-19 also showed higher risks of mental health disorders than those with seasonal influenza, the researchers said.
Those admitted to hospital for COVID-19 showed increased risks of mental health disorders compared with those admitted to hospital for any other reason, they said.
The researchers cautioned that this is is an observational study, so cannot establish cause, while acknowledging that some misclassification bias may have occurred.
The study included mostly older white men, so results may not apply to other groups, they added.
The research suggests that people who survive the acute phase of COVID-19 are at increased risk of an array of incident mental health disorders, and that tackling mental health disorders among survivors of the disease should be a priority.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.