33% of COVID-19 survivors later diagnosed with psychiatric issues, study finds

Among 236,379 patients who had a confirmed COVID-19 infection, nearly 34 percent were diagnosed with a neurological or psychological condition within six months, according to research published April 6 in The Lancet Psychiatry. 

To conduct the research, scientists analyzed EHR data from patients across 62 healthcare organizations, primarily in the U.S., and found 33.62 percent of those with COVID-19 were diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months. In 13 percent of those cases, it was the patient's first neurological or psychiatric diagnosis. 

The most common diagnosis was anxiety, occurring in 17.39 percent of patients. Neurological disorders, such as stroke and dementia, occurred in 2.10 percent and 0.67 percent of the study population, respectively.

Overall, patients with severe COVID-19 were more likely to experience neurological and psychiatric outcomes compared to those with milder illness. For example, among patients who required intensive care, stroke later occurred in 6.92 percent, and dementia in nearly 2 percent. 

Researchers also found that most of the neurological and mental health disorders included in the analysis were more common in patients with COVID-19 compared to those who had influenza or other respiratory tract infections.

"Our results indicated that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after COVID-19 than after flu or other respiratory infections, even when patients are matched for other risk factors," said Max Taquet, PhD, study co-author and psychiatry professor at the University of Oxford in the U.K. "The study cannot reveal the mechanisms involved, but does point to the need for later research to identify these, with a view to preventing and treating them." 


To view the full findings, click here.

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