Neuropsychiatric Risks of COVID: New Data

post covid depression

The neuropsychiatric ramifications of severe COVID-19 infection appear to be no different than for other severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).

Results of a large study showed risks of new neuropsychiatric illness were significantly and similarly increased in adults surviving either severe COVID-19 infection or other SARI, compared with the general population.

This suggests that disease severity, rather than pathogen, is the most relevant factor in newonset neuropsychiatric illness, the investigators note.

The risk of new-onset neuropsychological illness after severe COVID-19 infection are “substantial, but similar to those after other severe respiratory infections,” study investigator Peter Watkinson, MD, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, and John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, England, told Medscape Medical News.

“Both for those providing and commissioning services, neuropsychological sequelae need to be considered after all severe respiratory infections, rather than only following severe COVID-19 disease,” Watkinson said.

Significant Mental Health Burden

Research has shown a significant burden of neuropsychological illness after severe COVID-19 infection. However, it’s unclear how this risk compares to SARI.

To investigate, Watkinson and colleagues evaluated electronic health record (EHR) data on more than 8.3 million adults, including 16,679 (0.02%) who survived a hospital admission for SARI and 32,525 (0.03%) who survived a hospital stay for COVID-19.

Compared with the remaining population, risks of new anxiety disorder, dementia, psychotic disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder diagnoses were significantly and similarly increased in adults surviving hospitalization for either COVID-19 or SARI.

Diagnosis SARI HR (95% CI) COVID-19 HR (95% CI)
Anxiety 1.86 (1.56 – 2.21) 2.36 (2.03 – 2.74)
Dementia 2.55 (2.17 – 3.00) 2.63 (2.21 – 3.14)
Psychotic disorder 3.63 (1.88 – 7.00) 3.05 (1.58 – 5.90)
Depression 3.46 (221 – 5.40) 1.95 (1.05 – 3.65)
Bipolar disorder 2.26 (1.25 – 4.08) 2.26 (1.25 – 4.07)

Compared with the wider population, survivors of severe SARI or COVID-19 were also aincreased risk of starting treatment with antidepressants, hypnotics/anxiolytics, or antipsychotics.


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