THURSDAY, Feb. 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — People who survive the acute phase of COVID-19 are at increased risk for subsequent incident behavioral health disorders, according to a study published online Feb. 16 in The BMJ.

Yan Xie, M.P.H., from the College for Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University, and colleagues estimated the risks for incident mental health disorders in survivors of acute COVID-19. The analysis included 153,848 people who survived the first 30 days of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and two control groups: a contemporary group (including 5.6 million) with no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 and a historical control group (nearly 5.9 million) that predated the COVID-19 pandemic, all identified from Veterans Affairs databases.

The researchers found that the COVID-19 group showed an increased risk for incident anxiety disorders (hazard ratio [HR], 1.35), depressive disorders (HR, 1.39), stress and adjustment disorders (HR, 1.38), and use of antidepressants (HR, 1.55) and benzodiazepines (HR, 1.65). There were also increases seen in the risk for incident opioid prescriptions (HR, 1.76), opioid use disorders (HR, 1.34), and other nonopioid substance use disorders (HR, 1.20). Additionally, the COVID-19 group showed an increased risk for incident neurocognitive decline (HR, 1.80) and sleep disorders (HR, 1.41). These increased risks were seen even among people who were not admitted to the hospital, but were highest among those who were admitted to the hospital during the acute phase of COVID-19.

“Tackling mental health disorders among survivors of COVID-19 should be a priority,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text


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