A recent Oregon State University study found that COVID-19 patients had a roughly 25% increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder in the four months following their infection, compared with people who had other types of respiratory tract infections.
The findings support previous research on psychiatric disorders among post-COVID patients, though the current study found a smaller effect than the earlier studies, said co-author Lauren Chan, a Ph.D. student in nutrition in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
For the current study, published in World Psychiatry, researchers used data from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) to match 46,610 COVID-19 positive individuals with control patients who were diagnosed with a different respiratory tract infection so they could compare how COVID specifically affected patients’ mental health.
They looked at the rate of psychiatric diagnoses for two time periods: from 21 to 120 days after patients’ COVID diagnosis, and from 120 to 365 days after diagnosis, limited to patients with no previous mental illness.
Researchers found that COVID patients had a 3.8% rate of developing a psychiatric disorder compared with 3.0% for other respiratory tract infections. The 0.8% difference amounts to about a 25% increased relative risk.
They looked specifically at anxiety disorders and mood disorders and found a minor but significant increase in risk for anxiety disorders and no change in risk for mood disorders.
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