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One in five Covid patients develop mental illness within first three months, study shows

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One in five COVId-19 patients were diagnosed with a mental illness for the first time within three months of their infection, a study has shown.

Mental health experts said the findings, which were based on an analysis of the electronic medical records of 69 million people in the US, suggest that coronavirus survivors could have an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

Of the almost 70 million people whose records were examined in the study, 62,354 individuals had confirmed COVID-19 cases.  

Researchers at the University of Oxford and the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre found that one in five of these patients went on to receive a first time diagnosis of anxiety, depression or insomnia within 90 days of testing positive for the virus. This was roughly twice as high as the figure for other individuals over the same time frame, according to the researchers.

People with a history of mental health disorders who contracted the virus were also discovered to be more likely to have new psychiatric diagnoses.

Paul Harrison, a psychiatry professor at the University of Oxford who led the research, said: "People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings in a large and detailed study show this to be likely.

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Source: The Independent, 10 November 2020

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