Reports of psychiatric morbidity associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection tend to be limited by geography and patients’ clinical status. Representative samples are needed to inform service planning and research.
To describe the psychiatric morbidity associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection (confirmed by real-time polymerase chain reaction) in referrals to a consultation-liaison psychiatry service in Qatar.
Retrospective review of 50 consecutive referrals.
Most patients were male. Median age was 39.5 years. Thirty-one patients were symptomatic (upper respiratory tract symptoms or pneumonia) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 19 were asymptomatic (no characteristic physical symptoms of COVID-19 infection). Seventeen patients (34%) had a past psychiatric history including eight with bipolar I disorder or psychosis, all of whom relapsed. Thirty patients (60%) had physical comorbidity. The principal psychiatric diagnoses made by the consultation-liaison team were delirium (n = 13), psychosis (n = 9), acute stress reaction (n = 8), anxiety disorder (n = 8), depression (n = 8) and mania (n = 8). Delirium was confined to the COVID-19 symptomatic group (the exception being one asymptomatic patient with concurrent physical illness). The other psychiatric diagnoses spanned the symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with COVID. One patient with COVID-19 pneumonia experienced an ischaemic stroke. Approximately half the patients with mania and psychosis had no past psychiatric history. Three patients self-harmed. The commonest psychiatric symptoms were sleep disturbance (70%), anxiety (64%), agitation (50%), depressed mood (42%) and irritability (36%).
A wide range of psychiatric morbidity is associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and is seen in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Cases of psychosis and mania represented relapses in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and also new onset cases.