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Mental Health in a COVID World

Study says COVID-19 causes mental health issues, eating disorders

By Julia Musto February 2022

COVID-19 is causing mental health problems in patients, according to new studies.

According to the study, people diagnosed with COVID-19 were 39% more likely to have depressive disorders.

In a large study published Wednesday in the journal The BMJ, researchers from St. Louis analyzed the records of 153,848 people from the Veterans Health Administration system.

The study included only people who had no mental health diagnoses or treatment for at least two years prior to infection, and the cohort study divvied participants into those who survived the first 30 days of SARS-CoV-2 infection and two control groups.

The control groups included a contemporary one with no evidence of infection from the virus and a historical group that predated the pandemic.

Those with COVID-19 were 39% more likely to have depressive disorders and 35% more likely to show an increased risk of incident anxiety disorders over the months after infection.

That group was also 38% more likely to be diagnosed with stress and adjustment disorders and 41% more likely to be diagnosed with sleep disorders.

COVID-19 patients were 80% more likely to develop neurocognitive problems and 34% more likely to develop opioid use disorders.

More than 18% of COVID-19 patients received a diagnosis or prescription for a neuropsychiatric issue in the following year.

“The risk of incident mental health disorders was consistently higher in the COVID-19 group in comparisons of people with covid-19 not admitted to hospital versus those not admitted to hospital for seasonal influenza, admitted to hospital with covid-19 versus admitted to hospital with seasonal influenza, and admitted to hospital with covid-19 versus admitted to hospital for any other cause,” the authors wrote.

The World Health Organization reports that the pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide, with 72% of mental health services for adolescents halted between June and August 2020.