A third of Covid-19 patients get brain or psychiatric disorder: Study

LONDON: One in three Covid-19 survivors in a study of more than 230,000 mostly American patients were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months, suggesting the pandemic could lead to a wave of mental and neurological problems, scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers who conducted the analysis said it was not clear how the virus was linked to psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression, but that these were the most common diagnoses among the 14 disorders they looked at.

Post-Covid cases of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer, the researchers said, but were still significant, especially in those who had severe Covid-19.

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

The new findings, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, analysed health records of 236,379 Covid-19 patients, mostly from the US, and found 34 per cent had been diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric illnesses within six months.


The disorders were significantly more common in Covid-19 patients than in groups who recovered from flu or other respiratory infections over the same period.

Anxiety, at 17 per cent, and mood disorders, at 14 per cent, were the most common, and did not appear to be related to how mild or severe the patient's Covid-19 infection had been.

Among those who had been admitted to intensive care with severe Covid-19, however, 7 per cent had a stroke within six months, and almost 2 per cent were diagnosed with dementia. - REUTERS