Severe COVID-19 symptoms linked with long-term mental health problems

A summary of research published in The Lancet Public Health

A new study has found that people who are bedridden with severe COVID-19 symptoms are more likely to experience mental health issues during recovery.

There are several studies looking at the mental health of people who have been to hospital with COVID-19. This paper aimed to look at people who experienced severe symptoms but remained at home.


What did the study look at?

Researchers collected information on 247,249 people from 6 countries between March 2020 and August 2021. They looked at COVID-19 cases and mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety and poor sleep. They monitored symptoms both before and after a person experienced COVID-19.

What do the results show?

People who had had COVID-19 were more likely to have depression and poor sleep, compared to people who had not had COVID-19. Almost 1 in 4 of the people included in the study were bedridden for more than 7 days with COVID-19 symptoms. This group was at a higher risk of symptoms of depression and anxiety than those without COVID-19. Symptoms of depression decreased over time during a person’s recovery, but in some cases lasted up to 16 months.

Why is this important?

The researchers call for more awareness of mental health problems in people recovering from COVID-19. This would help healthcare professionals to spot any signs and symptoms of mental illness during recovery. They suggest that monitoring should continue for longer than a year for those people who experience severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Further information

Original research paper

Title: Acute COVID-19 severity and mental health morbidity trajectories in patient populations of six nations: an observational study

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