A study reveals that about twenty percent of coronavirus patients later develop a new mental illness. In a study published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal this week, researchers revealed most of these patients develop mental disorders within 90 days of their diagnoses.

Researchers studied the electronic health records of more than 62,000 coronavirus patients in the U.S. and found that they were twice as likely to suffer from a new mental disorder than patients of other diseases during the same period.

Paul Harrison, a psychiatry professor at Britain’s Oxford University, said the most common mental illnesses developed by COVID-19 patients include anxiety, depression, and insomnia. He said the study confirms previous theories that recovered coronavirus patients are at greater risk of developing mental disorders.

“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,” he said.

Harrison also said doctors and scientists around the world need to investigate the causes and identify new treatments for mental illness associated with COVID-19. “Health services need to be ready to provide care, especially since our results are likely to be underestimates of the number of psychiatric patients,” he said.

Michael Bloomfield, a consultant psychiatrist at University College London, said the findings were most likely brought by various factors, such as stressors and the effects of the coronavirus itself. “This is likely due to the combination of the psychological stressors associated with this particular pandemic and the physical effects of the illness,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the study also found that people with pre-existing mental illness were 65 percent more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those without. Mental health experts not directly involved with the study said the findings add to increasing evidence that the disease can affect the brain and mind and increase the risk of psychiatric illnesses.

Psychiatry professor Simon Wessely said the said findings echoed similar findings in previous infectious disease outbreaks. “COVID-19 affects the central nervous system, and so might directly increase subsequent disorders,” he said. “But this research confirms that is not the whole story, and that this risk is increased by previous ill health,” he added.

The new program provides support to the National Urban League, UnidosUS and local nonprofits nationwide to help address rates of infection, joblessness, and the dearth of vital resources needed in Black and Latino U.S. communities disproportionately afflicted by COVID-19. Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

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