First wave Covid-19 patients more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression

Wednesday 14th December 2022 06:56 EST

More than 3,000 UK individuals, representing a cross-section of the general public, were polled by the researchers, who were led by Professor Daryl O’Connor and Dr. Sarah Wilding of the School of Psychology at the University of Leeds. When compared to people who avoided Covid-19 in the same time period, individuals who reported having the virus in early 2020 were also 1.67 times more likely to have clinically significant levels of anxiety after 13 months.

The study relied on participants self-reporting COVID-19, as limited testing was available at the beginning of the pandemic. However, the levels of reported infection are similar to two other key UK studies conducted at a similar time. They also found that having a mental health condition before the pandemic was associated with increased odds of contracting COVID-19. Possible reasons for this may include lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical health vulnerabilities linked to poor mental health, and lower levels of adherence to government COVID-19 restrictions.

The researchers are calling for medical professionals to consider their findings when treating patients who have had COVID-19. Professor O'Connor said, “The findings highlight the importance for GPs and other healthcare professionals to be vigilant to these longer-lasting symptoms and to put in place treatments and support for mental health, as well as physical health, for patients who may have contracted COVID-19 infection.”

The researchers highlighted that long COVID may also be a factor in the findings, as its long-term symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, headaches, brain fog, loss of taste and smell and breathlessness could contribute to anxiety, depression and poor well-being.

They concluded that further investigation was needed to identify the causes of the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on mental health.

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