1 in 3 Severe Covid-19 Survivors Face Mental Health Issues
A study from the US has found that 1 in 3 people who were severely ill with Covid-19 were subsequently diagnosed with a mental health condition within six months of infection. The research is the largest of its kind so far in the Covid-19 pandemic and used electronic health records of 236,379 patients (mainly from the US) to conclude that 34% experienced mental health and neurological conditions after their Covid-19 diagnosis.
While this study primarily looked at US patients, its results are not something we in the UK can ignore. We are already hearing from thousands of people who suffered from Covid-19 only to face mental health struggles afterwards. It can be easily concluded that these results also present an idea about the mental health of Covid-19 survivors in the UK.
If you think you are struggling with your mental health after surviving Covid-19 or are concerned for friends and family, please keep reading. Learn more about the impact of Covid-19 on mental health, as well as what you can do to strengthen your mental defences.
The Impact of Covid-19
The survey found that the most common mental health concern 34% of the Covid-19 survivors face is anxiety. 17% of them developed anxiety within six months of their Covid-19. The lead author of the study, Professor Paul Harrison of Oxford University, said: “these are real-world data from a large number of patients. They confirm the high rates of psychiatric diagnoses after Covid-19 and show that serious disorders affecting the nervous systems occur too. While the latter is much rarer, they are significant, especially in those who had severe Covid-19.”
The research found that Covid-19 is 44% more likely to cause neurological problems than flu or respiratory tract infections. Neurological diagnoses were rare, with only 7% of those admitted to intensive care having a stroke and under 2% diagnoses with dementia. The research took into account underlying health characteristics, such as age, sec, existing health conditions and ethnicity.
A previous observational study conducted by the same research group reported that people are at increased risk of mood and anxiety disorders in the first three months after infection. However, this study is the first large-scale data showcasing the risks of neurological and psychiatric diagnosis six months after infection.
While anxiety was the most common diagnosis (occurring in 17% of patients), mood disorders (14%), substance misuse disorders (7%) and insomnia (5%) were also common in Covid-19 survivors included in this study.
Dr Max Taquet, the co-author of the study, also noted that “we now need to see what happens beyond six months. The study cannot reveal the mechanisms involved, but does point to the need for urgent research to identify these, with a view to preventing or treating them.”
The Need for Mental Health Support
Professor Paul Harrison noted how while the statistics may seem small compared to other causes of mental health issues, we must consider the larger-scale impact. The pandemic is global, and therefore so are the effects. The professor discussed his concerns over health and social systems having enough resources to support a wave of people sourcing help for their mental health.
The NHS already having a track history of long wait lists for mental health support – with 64% waiting more than four weeks between their initial assessments and second appointment and one in four waiting more than three months. Shockingly, 11% of people wait longer than six months. As a result, two-fifths of patients waiting for mental health treatments end up contacting emergency or crisis services, and one in nine end up in A&E.
These recent statistics are even more concerning as we look to a future where one in three Covid-19 survivors need mental health support. Private counselling and mental health support like therapy will be the ideal route for many people who don’t want to – and can’t – wait around for an NHS spot to open. Therapy is the ideal place for people suffering from mental health issues like anxiety, depression and insomnia. Therapy for anxiety can help you overcome the symptoms plaguing you since your fight with Covid-19.
In therapy, you have a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings and receive expert guidance and advice. Therapy is all about building a trusting relationship with your therapist so that they wholly understand your needs and mental health. From this relationship, effective treatment can occur, where the client can articulate their emotions and concerns, and the therapist can provide tailored support to help them on their mental health journey.
Please take a look at my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can support your ongoing mental health journey. The long-term mental health impact of Covid-19 is still to be officially determined. Still, the rising numbers of people needing mental health support suggest the adverse effects on our health and happiness aren’t going away anytime soon. For the expert support you deserve and need, don’t hesitate to contact me today.