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A third of COVID survivors suffer mental or neurological problems, study reveals

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A third of coronavirus patients were found to suffer from psychiatric or brain problems within six months of their COVID-19 diagnosis, according to a study published Tuesday.

Researchers analyzed the health records of 236,379 COVID patients, mostly from the US, and found that 34 percent had been diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric disorders six months on.

About one in eight of the patients, or 12.8 percent, were diagnosed for the first time with such an illness, the study showed.

Anxiety, at 17 percent, and depression or mood disorders, at 14 percent, were the most common diagnoses, according to the research.

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Instances of post-COVID cases of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer, but still significant — especially in people who had been seriously ill with the virus, the scientists said.

Nurse tends to a Covid-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California on January 11, 2021.
A nurse tends to a Covid-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California on January 11, 2021.
ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images

Among those who had been admitted to intensive care with the coronavirus, 7 percent had a stroke within six months. Almost 2 percent were diagnosed with dementia, the study found.

The disorders were significantly more common in COVID patients than in comparison groups of people who recovered from flu or other respiratory infections over the same time period.

Doctor Neil Hecht and his wife Mindy Cross are seen being treated on January 03, 2021, they will recover at home after after battling Covid-19 for twelve days at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center, in Tarzana, California.
Doctor Neil Hecht and his wife Mindy Cross are seen being treated on January 3, 2021. They will recover at home after after battling Covid-19 for twelve days at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in California.
APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

“Our results indicate that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after COVID-19 than after flu or other respiratory infections,” said Max Taquet, a psychiatrist at Britain’s Oxford University, who co-led the work.

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The study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, wasn’t able to determine how the virus is linked to psychiatric conditions, Taquet said — adding that urgent research is needed to identify the mechanisms involved.

Daniel Kim talks to staff before his release from St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
Daniel Kim talks to staff before his release from St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The researchers also suggested that the pandemic could bring a wave of mental and neurological problems.

“Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial,” said Paul Harrison, an Oxford psychiatry professor who co-led the work.

With Post wires

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