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There’s been an increase of mental health disorders after COVID-19, study says

Have mental health disorders been on the rise?

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An image depicting the omicron variant.

New research suggests that mental health disorders have been on the rise.

Illustration by Zoe Peterson, Deseret News

People who have recovered from COVID-19 are at increased risk for developing mental health disorders, according to a new study that reviewed millions of health records from throughout the pandemic.

What they found: The study — published Thursday in the BMJ medical journal — looked at health records for more than 150,000 patients who got COVID-19 between March 2020 and January 2021.

  • The researchers compared the COVID-19 survivors with 5 million people who did not get COVID-19 but experienced lockdowns, quarantine, loneliness, unemployment and other social effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • They also compared the groups with a pre-pandemic group of patients.
  • “People with COVID-19 had a much higher risk of a broad array of mental health problems,” Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, chief of research and development for the VA St. Louis Health Care System and clinical epidemiologist at Washington University, according to STL Today.

What he said: “We knew that mental health of the U.S. population in general was affected by the pandemic, but we didn’t know what happened to people specifically with COVID-19, and did they really have it worse?” said Al-Aly.

The bigger picture: Experts said that depression, sadness — as well as unwanted weight gain — were among common complaints when people considered their mental health for the coronavirus pandemic, the Deseret News’ Lois Collins writes.

  • “One of the biggest ways that this pandemic has impacted our mental health is in the loss of social supports,” David Routt, a licensed clinical professional counselor in Caldwell, Idaho, told the Deseret News.
  • “Many of us relied heavily on others to keep the wheels of our lives turning, and when those supports are lost, we don’t move as well as we did before. This causes a significant increase in stress, which can easily lead to depressive or anxious symptoms.”