COVID-19: Catching coronavirus increases risk of depression, study finds | UK News

People who have had COVID-19 are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, study finds.

US researchers looked at data from 153,848 people who had contracted the coronavirus and compared them to more than 560,000 with no history of COVID and another large control group from before the pandemic.

The results showed that COVID-19 was associated with an increased risk of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, substance use and sleep problems, up to a year after infection.

Experts said the research supports previous findings but has a longer follow-up, with people followed for 12 months.

Compared to the uninfected group, those with COVID-19 showed a 60% higher risk of a mental health diagnosis or needing a mental health prescription after one year.

Anxiety rates were 35% higher among those who had had COVID and 39% higher for depression. People were also 55% more likely to use antidepressants.

Having had COVID meant a slight increase (2.4%) in people with sleep disturbances and a small but measurable increase (0.4%) in substance use problems.

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Similar results were found when the COVID-19 group was compared to the pre-pandemic group.

The risks were highest in people admitted to hospital, but were still apparent in those who recovered at home.

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: ‘Many people face an uphill battle to rebuild their lives,’ adding: ‘Treatment is lifesaving but complicated by the fact that most people with mental health issues after an infection don’t seek help.

“Actively monitoring patients’ recovery through a ‘test and treat’ program can help ensure they receive the right kind of mental health care at the right time.”

The researchers used data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs and published their work in the British Medical Journal. Most of the study participants were men with an average age of 63.

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