One in three people who overcome COVID-19 suffer from a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis six months on, according to the largest study so far published on the mental toll that long-COVID 19 takes on survivors.
The researchers proved that COVID-19 patients were significantly more likely to develop brain conditions than those suffering from other respiratory tract infections.
Researchers also report about more than 230,000 patients who had recovered from COVID-19, they found that 34% were diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months.
The most common conditions were anxiety (17% of patients) and mood disorders (14%).
For 13% of patients, the disorders were their first diagnosis of a mental health issue.
Incidence of neurological disorders such as brain haemorrhage (0.6%), stroke (2.1%) and dementia (0.7%) was lower overall than for psychiatric disorders but the risk for brain disorders was generally higher in patients who had severe COVID-19.
The authors also examined data from more than 100,000 patients diagnosed with influenza and more than 236,000 diagnosed with any respiratory tract infection.
They found there was overall a 44% greater risk of neurological and mental health diagnoses after COVID-19 than after flu, and a 16% higher risk than with respiratory tract infections.
Paul Harrison from University of Oxford reported the individual risk of neurological and psychiatric orders from COVID-19 was small, the overall effect across the global population could prove to be "substantial" and many of these conditions are chronic.
"As a result, health care systems need to be resourced to deal with the anticipated need, both within primary and secondary care services."
Patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19 were at great risk of developing long-term conditions, according to the data analysis.
For example, 46% of patients who needed intensive care were diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric conditions within six months of recovery.
The data showed 2.7% of people needing intensive care suffered a subsequent brain haemorrhage, compare to 0.3% of people who weren't hospitalised.
And nearly 7% of those needing ICU care suffered a stroke, compared with 1.3% of patients who didn't.
Wiring in a linked comment article, Jonathan Rogers from University College London, reported the long-term neurological and psychiatric outcomes among COVID19 patients are needed.
"Sadly, many of the disorders identified in this research tend to be chronic or recurrent, so it can anticipate that the impact of COVID-19 could be with us for many years."
"It is clear from this research that the impact of COVID-19 is having on individuals mental health can be severe".
"This also contributing to the already rising levels of mental illness and requires further and urgent research work on this topic."
@ Jackie San