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article imageStudy finds 55% of COVID-19 survivors suffer mental disorders

By Karen Graham     Aug 5, 2020 in Health
A new study suggests that the majority of people who recover from COVID-19 suffer from at least one mental disorder one month after treatment, raising serious concerns about lingering psychological effects of the virus.
The research, conducted at San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy was published online last week in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. In the study, screened 402 adult survivors of COVID-19 were screened for psychiatric symptoms one month after hospital treatment for COVID-19 treatment.
CTV News Canada is reporting that the researchers found that about 55 percent of the 265 men and 137 women in the study suffered from at least one mental disorder, post-hospitalization.
The investigation look ed at the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptomatology. The researchers also collected sociodemographic information, clinical data, baseline inflammatory markers and follow-up oxygen saturation levels on all the patients.
“It was immediately clear that the inflammation caused by the disease could also have repercussions at the psychiatric level,” said professor Francesco Benedetti, group leader of the Research Unit in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology at San Raffaele, in a statement, according to Reuters.
Based on the interviews, Anxiety was the most common disorder experienced, with 42 percent suffering from the affliction, followed by insomnia (40 percent), depression (31 percent), post-traumatic stress disorder (28 percent) and obsessive-compulsive symptoms (20 percent).
The study also showed that despite the lower severity of the infection in women, they suffered the most from anxiety and depression. “We hypothesise that this may be due to the different functioning of the immune system,” said Professor Benedetti.
Oil painting reproduction of Vincent van Gogh s  At Eternity s Gate.
Oil painting reproduction of Vincent van Gogh's "At Eternity's Gate."
Vincent Van Gogh - 1890
Three weeks after treatment in the hospital for COVID-19, one patient described terrifying panic attacks in the middle of the night that made them feel “as if I was to die.”
"I stayed there out on the balcony, for hours, trying to put fresh air into my lungs. It was terrible. Panic made me suffer more than COVID,” the patient wrote in a follow-up report.
Interestingly, it is believed that the high incidence in mental health disorders among COVID-19 survivors may be due to inflammation, researchers say, according to CTV News Canada.
A study published in Nature Reviews Immunology in 2015 suggests inflammation has a direct impact on several neurotransmitter systems in the brain responsible for motivation, anxiety and arousal.
Another study, published in the July 2020 issue of the Lancet suggested that significant number of COVID-19 patients experience delirium in the acute stage of the illness, and that doctors should be aware of the possibility of long-term issues such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder, and rarer neuropsychiatric syndromes.
However, in this particular study, the researchers suggest that if COVID-19 follows a similar trajectory as SARS and MERS, then “most patients should recover without experiencing mental illness.”
More about Covid19, Survivors, Immune response, Ptsd, panic attacks
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