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Scientists link ‘severe’ Covid-19 to long-term mental health problems

People who suffer from severe Covid-19 symptoms are more likely to have long-term mental health problems, a new study suggests.

Higher rates of depression and anxiety have been found in people who were “bedridden” with Covid-19 for more than seven days last year, according to a study published in the Lancet.

Scientists, drawing on data from 247,249 people across the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, found that people with coronavirus who were not admitted to hospital were more likely to experience symptoms of depression up to 16 months after diagnosis, compared to those never infected.

However, over 16 months, patients who were bedridden for seven days or more were between 50 and 60% more likely to experience higher levels of depression and anxiety compared to people never infected during the study period, the researchers found.

Overall, people diagnosed with Covid-19 had a higher prevalence of depression and poorer sleep quality compared with individuals who were never diagnosed – 20% of those in the former group experienced symptoms of depression, versus 11% in the latter group.

Researchers suggested patients who spent longer in bed or had higher depression or anxiety rates could be suffering from ill health due to a combination of worrying about long-term health effects and Covid symptoms persisting.

Patients with severe Covid often experience inflammation, which has previously been linked to chronic mental illness, particularly depression.

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Source: The Independent, 15 March 2022


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