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SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that mainly damages the lungs, but did you know it can do more harm to you than just this? Yes, in a recent study, researchers have stated that COVID-19 not only damages the respiratory organs but also wrecks havoc on the brain, leading to several mental health disorders. While some of them can be easily managed, some are serious. From anxiety, depression, substance use, to sleep disorders, COVID can toss up everything inside your body. And, what is more, worrisome is that these are the disorders that a recovered COVID patient faces. "A COVID survivor is prone to various mental health disorders which can last up to one year after the viral infection," said the study.
The findings, published in The BMJ suggest that tackling mental health disorders among survivors of COVID-19 should be a priority. According to the data, more than 403 million people globally and 77 million in the US have been infected with the virus since the pandemic started. Speaking about the study results, the senior author of the study Ziyad Al-Aly said, "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 U.S." He further added, "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."
For the study, the researchers collected data of people who suffered mental health complications after recovering from the deadly coronavirus infection. 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.
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:
The study authors also said that they found similar results when the COVID-19 group was compared with the historical control group. According to the researchers, the risks were highest in people admitted to the hospital during the initial phase of COVID-19 but were evident even among those who were not admitted to the hospital. They added that people with COVID-19 also showed higher risks of mental health disorders than those with seasonal influenza.
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.
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