The study found that symptoms of depression and anxiety usually resolved within two months for non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Severe COVID-19 illness is associated with an increased risk of long-term adverse mental health effects, according to a study published in the journal The Lancet Public Health. The researchers found that hospitalized patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection were more likely to have depressive symptoms up to 16 months after diagnosis than those who had never been infected.

Patients who were bedridden for seven days or more had higher levels of depression and anxiety, compared with those diagnosed with COVID-19 but never bedridden, they said. The study found that symptoms of depression and anxiety usually resolved within two months for non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

However, patients who were bedridden for seven days or more had an increased risk of depression and anxiety over the 16-month study period. The researchers looked at the symptom prevalence of depression, anxiety, COVID-19-related distress and poor sleep quality in people with and without a diagnosis of COVID-19 from 0-16 months. The analysis was based on data from seven groups in Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the UK.

Of the 247,249 people included, 9,979 (4 percent) were diagnosed with COVID-19 between February 2020 and August 2021. Overall, participants diagnosed with COVID-19 had a higher prevalence of depression and poorer sleep quality compared to individuals who never had .

“Our study is one of the first to examine psychological symptoms following severe COVID-19 disease in the general population up to 16 months after diagnosis,” said study author Unnur Anna Valdimarsdottir, a professor at the University of Iceland.

“It suggests that the mental health effects are not equal for all COVID-19 patients and that bedtime is a key factor in determining the severity of mental health effects,” Valdimarsdottir said.

The researchers noted that faster recovery from physical COVID-19 symptoms may partly explain why mental health symptoms decline at a similar rate for those with mild infection. However, patients with severe COVID-19 often experience inflammation previously associated with chronic mental health outcomes, especially depression, they said.

“The increased incidence of depression and anxiety in patients with COVID-19 who have been bedridden for seven days or more may be due to a combination of concerns about long-term health effects and the persistence of physical long-term COVID-19 symptoms until well after the disease,” said study co-author Ingibjorg Magnusdottir, of the University of Iceland.

“Likewise, inflammatory responses in patients with a severe diagnosis may contribute to more persistent psychological symptoms,” Magnusdottir said.

By contrast, the researchers said, the fact that individuals with mild COVID-19 infection may return to normal life earlier and experience only a benign infection likely contributes to the lower risk of perceived negative mental health effects. The authors acknowledged several limitations in the study.

First, individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 were slightly more likely to have previous diagnoses of psychiatric disorders than individuals without a diagnosis of the disease, the researchers said. However, the absolute differences in the history of psychiatric disorders never exceeded 4 percent in any of the groups and did not affect the interpretation of the findings, they said.

Second, the study reflects self-reported data on the diagnosis of COVID-19 and mental health effects — the coexistence of two or more conditions — that are related to some degree, the researchers said. Third, most of the comparison group responded between April and June 2020, and responses from COVID-19 patients were collected between April 2020 and August 2021, they said.

This post Severe COVID-19 Linked to Long-Term Mental Health Outcomes: Lancet Study

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