Millions of people with Covid-19 are at greater risk of developing neurological and psychiatric conditions, including brain fog, dementia and psychosis, two years later than those with other respiratory infections. research of its kind.
The study found that they are at increased risk of anxiety and depression, but this subsides within two months of contracting Covid-19. After more than two years, the risk is no higher than for other respiratory infections. The findings were published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.
Almost 600 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported worldwide since the pandemic began, and survivors are at risk of developing neurological and psychiatric conditions.
Previous studies have found that people are more likely to develop several neurological and mental health conditions in the first six months after infection. However, until now there have been no large-scale data examining the risks over a long period of time. A new study by the University of Oxford and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Center analyzed 1.28 million cases of Covid-19 over two years.
Dr Max Tackett, who led the analysis at the University of Oxford, said: “The findings shed new light on the long-term consequences for mental and brain health in people following Covid-19 infection. The findings have implications for patients and healthcare services, and highlight the need for more research to understand why this happens after Covid-19 and what can be done to prevent these illnesses from occurring.
The study analyzed data on 14 neurological and psychiatric diagnoses, drawn primarily from electronic health records from the United States. In adults, depression or anxiety worsens after Covid-19, but it has been found to return within about two months, just like other respiratory infections.
However, at the end of the two-year follow-up, the risk of some other neurological and mental health conditions remained higher after Covid-19 than other respiratory infections.
Adults aged 64 and younger with Covid-19 had a higher risk of brain fog (640 per 10,000 people) than those with other respiratory infections (550 per 10,000 people).
People aged 65 and older with Covid-19 had higher rates of brain fog (1,540 per 10,000), dementia (450 per 10,000) and psychotic disorders (85 per 10,000). any previous respiratory infection (1,230 per 10,000 for brain fog, 330 per 10,000 for dementia, and 60 per 10,000 for psychotic disorder).
Children’s results showed similarities and differences with adults. The odds of most diagnoses after Covid-19 were lower than in adults, and they were no more at risk for anxiety or depression than children with other respiratory infections. However, like adults, children recovering from Covid-19 may be diagnosed with certain conditions, including seizures and psychotic disorders.
In the wave of the Delta variant, more neurological and psychiatric diseases were observed than in the previous Alpha variant. Omicron wave is associated with neurological and psychiatric risks like Delta.
The researchers cautioned that there are some important limitations to consider. Self-diagnosed and asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 may be underrepresented in the study because they are unlikely to be recorded. It also did not look at the severity or duration of post-Covid-19 conditions and how they compare to other respiratory infections.
Professor Paul Harrison, who led the study at the University of Oxford, said: “The good news is that over-diagnosis of depression and anxiety after Covid-19 is short-lived and not seen in children. However, two years later, even after Covid-19, some other diseases such as dementia and epilepsy are on the rise, which is worrying.