Coronavirus affecting mental health 'the norm,' research shows

4 June 2021, 10:18

The research on neurological and psychiatric symptoms showed that fatigue and depression can be just as common in mild cases.
The research on neurological and psychiatric symptoms showed that fatigue and depression can be just as common in mild cases. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

Mild cases of Coronavirus can impact mental health just as much as severe cases, research by University College London (UCL) has found.

Scientists analysed 215 studies from 30 countries, which found that 23 per cent of people who had contracted Covid-19 went through depression. Anxiety was also experienced by 16 per cent of patients.

A total of 105,638 people with Covid-19 symptoms were included in the study of data - published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry - which went as far as July 2020.

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Lead author Dr Jonathan Rogers, of UCL Psychiatry and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We had expected that neurological and psychiatric symptoms would be more common in severe COVID-19 cases, but instead we found that some symptoms appeared to be more common in mild cases.

"It appears that Covid-19 affecting mental health and the brain is the norm, rather than the exception."

He added: "Many factors could contribute to neurological and psychiatric symptoms in the early stages of infection with Covid-19, including inflammation, impaired oxygen delivery to the brain, and psychological factors.

"More studies are needed to understand these links better."

Coronavirus is known to affect multiple parts of the body, with the review also revealing that loss of smell (anosmia) was experienced by 43 per cent of people and weakness was experienced by 40 per cent.

More severe but rare reactions to the virus were ischaemic strokes (1.9 per cent of cases in the dataset), haemorrhagic strokes (0.4 per cent) and seizures (0.06 per cent). Doctors previously warned people to look for signs of stroke after the AstraZeneca jab too.

That said, patients with severe Covid-19 were over-represented in the review, as most of the studies focused on patients admitted to hospital, and studies of people outside hospitals included few with very mild or no symptoms.

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