A new study has discovered that people infected with coronavirus can be susceptible to mental illnesses just one month after catching COVID-19.
The University of Oxford study concluded COVID-19 survivors are at significant risk of a variety of psychiatric disorders, including dementia.
Researchers found the increase was greatest for anxiety disorders but also depression and insomnia.
Instances of post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder were also evident in the study of more than 62,000 COVID-19 survivors.
One in 16 coronavirus patients who never had a mental illness will be diagnosed with one within three months after infection, the study found.
“We provide strong evidence that COVID-19 survivors have a significantly elevated rate of psychiatric disorders,” the paper said.
University of Oxford researchers wanted to explore if COVID-19 had psychiatric risk factors, on top of the better-known physical impacts and effects.
In patients with no prior psychiatric history, the study found coronavirus was associated with an increased incidence of psychiatric diagnoses in the three months after infection, compared to six other health events.
The comparison events included influenza, respiratory tract infections, skin infections, cholelithiasis, urolithiasis and the fracture of a large bone.
Study leader Maxime Taquet found In the period between 14 days and 90 days after diagnosis, 5.8 per cent of COVID-19 survivors had their first recorded diagnosis of psychiatric illness.
The figures were a minimum estimate, he said, as there are likely to be many other patients who have not yet presented or received a diagnosis.
The paper, Bidirectional associations between COVID-19 and psychiatric disorder, which is now awaiting peer review, also found higher than average coronavirus rates in people with a previous psychiatric diagnosis.
The study also threw up a surprise finding, potentially linking dementia with coronavirus.
Researchers discovered a 2-3 fold increased risk of dementia after contracting COVID-19 was particularly concerning.
This finding should be investigated further, the University of Oxford team said.
Mr Taquet’s advised anyone infected with the virus to monitor their mental and emotional well-being.
“If you experience anxiety, low mood, insomnia or memory loss after COVID-19, you should see a medical professional as there might be ways to improve these symptoms,” he told Reuters.