2020 was meant to be a lot of things, but what it instead became was a Great Garbage Fire, a year synonymous with the global coronavirus pandemic and one that saw the word “unprecedented” punctuate every conversation. When the pandemic was in its early stages, the risks of coronavirus were largely underestimated. News headlines suggested it was a risk posed to the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, but as it spread with alarming speed worldwide, health officials soon began to warn otherwise, claiming that regardless of age, the effects of the coronavirus could still be devastating.
This was evidenced at the close of last year, when the New York Times reported that athletes who had contracted the coronavirus soon found themselves suffering physically. Remember, these are people at peak physical fitness, the epitome of health. But as many suffered from Covid-19, we soon discovered that they struggled to regain their fitness with some even fearing long-term impacts of the virus, as they had lingering battles with lung issues and muscle weakness, as well as difficulty breathing months after the virus.
Now, CNN reports that as many as one in three people infected with coronavirus have longer term mental health or neurological symptoms. According to the study which was published in the journal of Lancet Psychiatry, 34 per cent of Covid-19 survivors received a diagnosis for a neurological or psychological condition within six months of their infection.
As CNN reports, “The most common diagnosis was anxiety, found in 17 per cent of those treated for Covid-19, followed by mood disorders, found in 14 per cent of patients. And while the neurological effects are more severe in hospitalised patients, they are still common in those who were only treated in an outpatient setting.”
According to Maxime Taquet, an academic clinical fellow in psychiatry at the University of Oxford and co-author of the study, “That rate increased progressively as the severity of the covid-19 illness increased. If we look at patients who were hospitalised that rate increased to 39 per cent.”
It’s an important discovery, particularly as the results could light the way for how the healthcare system needs to continue helping those who have survived coronavirus. “Our results indicate that brain disease and psychiatric disorders are more common after Covid-19 than after flu or other respiratory infections, even when patients are matched for other risk factors. We now need to see what happens beyond six months.”