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Does COVID-19 lead to risk of poor mental health?

A study shows that people are having increased mental health problems after a COVID-19 diagnosis

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An illustration of virus particles.

A study shows that people are having increased mental health problems after a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

A study published in the British Medical Journal shows that those who have survived COVID-19 are at an increased risk of developing certain mental health issues, such as anxiety and depressive disorders.

Participants: The study collected data of nearly 154,000 COVID-19 patients from the Veterans Health Administration system.

  • Participants of the study had not received mental health diagnoses or treatment within two years of being infected with the virus.

The study: The data from those affected with COVID-19 was compared against a separate group of people who never contracted the virus.

Results: The COVID-19 group showed an increased risk of incident anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, stress and adjustment disorders, and use of antidepressants and benzodiazepines, compared to the group without a COVID-19 infection, according to the study.

  • As found in the study, people infected with the virus were 39% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and 35% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, according to reporting on the study by The New York Times.
  • When compared to people hospitalized for non-COVID-19-related reasons, the COVID-19 group exhibited a higher risk of receiving a mental health diagnosis, according to Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the senior author of the BMJ study and chief of research and development at the V.A. St. Lewis Health Care System.
  • Research from Johns Hopkins Medicine corroborated this data, finding that following COVID-19 hospitalization, patients began reporting symptoms of psychiatric distress such as anxiety, depression, trauma-related distress or insomnia.
  • The Lancet medical journal also found through a study of 236,379 COVID-19 patients that 33%-62% of them received a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis after infection.