It would seem that coronavirus does not only affect the physical health of an individual but it could also wreak havoc on the patient's mental health. A recent study showed that survivors of COVID-19 may experience insomnia, depression, and anxiety.

In a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, researchers led by Maxime Taquet, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, looked into the electronic medical records of more than 69 million individuals from the TriNetX Analytics Network. The patients received care at 54 health-care organisations in the US during the period of Jan. 20 and Aug. 1 of this year.

The researchers found that there is a bidirectional association between psychiatric disorders and COVID-19. They found that those who had a bout with COVID-19 showed a two to three increased risk of newly-recognised psychiatric disorders. Among the risks associated were anxiety disorders, dementia, and insomnia. Those who already have psychiatric problems also had a 1.65 higher relative risk.

The researchers noted that the changes that are associated with the COVID-19 pandemic must be given attention by investigators and clinicians, including the general public. Infection rates often change in various areas, and clinical data and new cases are often added to the database. Hence, conclusions that depend on only a single dataset would have to be re-examined every now and then.

Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford University, said in New York Times that people have been worried that there is a great risk of mental health issues for COVID-19 survivors. He said that their findings simply confirmed it.

Michael Bloomfield, University College London consultant psychiatrist said that the mental health issues may be likely because of a combination of psychological stressors that have been associated with the pandemic.

The researchers stated that more than a century has passed from the time that the world dealt with the influenza pandemic. It also resulted in an increased rate of psychiatric and neurological issues. Despite the medical advances in healthcare, the world is still facing similar issues related to the changing environments. Being able to use modern tools like electronic medical records in an efficient manner could provide essential information that will help physicians better understand and control the psychiatric outcomes of the pandemic.

Coronavirus and mental health issues. Photo: Pixabay