Coronavirus may be linked to mental illnesses, brain disorders: Study

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The novel coronavirus may be linked to increased risk of developing mental illnesses or brain disorders, a study by a University of Oxford professor suggested.

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One in eight people who were infected with COVID-19 are diagnosed with a psychological or neurological illness within six months of testing positive, Dr. Max Taquet, from the department of psychiatry at Oxford, found.

That amounts to 33.6 percent of COVID-19 patients, Taquet said.

In patients with a previous history of mental or brain disorders, the chances of developing a new illness increased to one in three, the research found.

A woman walks in front of social distancing notice in Tokyo. (File photo: AP)
A woman walks in front of social distancing notice in Tokyo. (File photo: AP)

The study – which is yet to be peer-reviewed – analyzed the electronic health records of 236,379 hospitalized and non-hospitalized coronavirus patients in the United States.

It compared the group with others who were diagnosed with influenza or with respiratory tract infections between January 20 and December 13, 2020.

The researchers found that most diagnoses – including stroke, acute bleeding inside the skull or brain, dementia, and psychotic disorders – were more common in COVID-19 patients than in patients with influenza or respiratory infections.

The study may confirm ongoing debate on the long-lasting and detrimental effects of the pandemic on patients.

“This is likely due to a combination of the psychological stressors associated with this particular pandemic and the physical effects of the illness,” Michael Bloomfield, a consultant psychiatrist at University College London, told Reuters about a similar study in November.

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