A major study has shown that people who experienced extreme stress, anxiety, loneliness or depression before contracting the coronavirus are more likely to contract COVID-19 for a long time than those who are in good mental health.
A Harvard analysis of health data from nearly 55,000 US volunteers, most of them women, found that high levels of pre-Covid psychological distress increased the risk of long-term illness by 32%-46%.
The findings highlight the urgent need to support people with mental health conditions and the importance of building mental health resilience more broadly in the population to reduce the long-term impact of Covid.
Andrea Roberts, a senior researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan Public School, said: health. “The associations were stronger with these risk factors than with other things we know to be associated with prolonged Covid, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and asthma.”
a large minority Of people who contract Covid develop long-term, often debilitating illnesses such as fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and heart problems. Around One out of every six people is middle-aged One in 13 younger adults in the UK has symptoms lasting more than three months. It is believed that there are multiple causes, ranging from abnormal immune responses to damaged tissues and residual viruses lurking in the body.
While the relationship between mental health and long-term Covid is unclear, psychological distress can lead to chronic inflammation and a disrupted immune system, which could make people more susceptible to contracting Covid for a prolonged period, researchers note in Gamma Psychiatry.
The Harvard team used questionnaires to rate the mental health of 54,960 US volunteers selected from Nurses’ Health Studies and the Today’s study was born. Most of the volunteers were white nurses between the ages of 40 and 70. In April 2020, none tested positive for Covid, but over the next year more than 3,000 have contracted the virus and registered their symptoms.
Those who scored higher in depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness and anxiety before contracting Covid were more likely to report symptoms that lasted longer than one month. These persistent symptoms were 49% more likely in people with two or more forms of psychiatric disorders compared with those who did not report any. A similar finding was seen in people whose symptoms lasted at least two months.
All symptoms of Covid except for coughing and problems with smell or taste were more common in those who were distressed before contracting the virus. Depending on the type of distress, volunteers were 15% to 51% more likely to say that prolonged Covid has impaired their daily lives compared to those without mental health issues before they tested positive.
The results do not mean that mental health problems cause prolonged Covid illness: More than 40% of those who had long-term Covid in the study did not show signs of distress prior to infection.
Mental health is known to affect some diseases. Stress has been linked to an increased susceptibility to Colds and others Respiratory infections. last year, Researchers in London She stated that poor mental health prior to the pandemic increased the risk of developing Covid for a prolonged period, as did the elderly, females, being overweight, poor general health, and having asthma. A separate study of people with multiple sclerosis found that those with anxiety or depression took Longer to recover from covid.
It’s important for people with poor mental health to get high-quality care, said Siwen Wang, a Harvard epidemiologist and first author of the study. “Future research should investigate whether better management of the mental disorder can prevent people from contracting Covid for long periods or improve their symptoms,” she said.
Claire Steves, professor of aging and health at King’s College London, who was part of a team that found a link between mental health and the long-running Covid virus last year, said the Harvard study emphasized the need to build support for people at risk and improve mental status. Flexibility in the general population. “It is important to mention that this association does not mean that previous mental health problems cause long-term Covid disease, but rather that mental health problems increase the vulnerability of individuals, due to reduced reserves so that physiological changes appear in daily life.”
Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “People with severe mental illness are more likely to develop a range of physical health problems, including the long-term illness of Covid. We are still learning about the impact of the virus on people’s physical and mental health, but we know that Prolonged Covid can cause debilitating symptoms.People with prolonged Covid must be able to access the healthcare they need, including appropriate specialized mental health provision.
“It is also essential that research on the prolonged effects of Covid on people with pre-existing mental illnesses continues, if we are to ensure the best level of care for patients in the future.”