Diabetes, lung diseases and obesity have long been considered risk factors for Covid-19. A US study has now also established a connection to mental illness.
That the Corona-Krise can have a negative impact on people with depression has already been researched. Now US scientists have also investigated what influence mental illness can have on the course of a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Cohort study with more than 60,000 Covid patients
In the study, which was presented in the journal “The Lancet” in November, scientists filtered out 62,354 Covid-19 patients from data from around 69 million patient files. They used the data to investigate whether there was a connection between mental illness and the coronavirus. The patients examined were diagnosed with Covid-19 between January 20 and August 1, 2020.
The scientists eventually created cohorts of patients diagnosed with both Covid-19 and a range of other diseases.
Link between Covid-19 and mental illness
Right at the beginning of the pandemic According to the scientists, there were concerns about the effects of the corona crisis on mental health. Surveys have shown that Covid 19 patients tend to have symptoms of anxiety, as well as depression and insomnia. On average, 22.5 percent of corona patients also have a neuropsychiatric diagnosis.
Various studies have also shown that corona infections are also increasing Delirium, manic symptoms and poor memory.
On the other hand, according to the US scientists, there are corona risk factors that arise from mental illness. With that in mind, they did a large case-control study. The result: The likelihood of developing Covid-19 was lower in patients with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHS), bipolar disorder, Depression and schizophrenia elevated.
Cohort study on the influence of mental illness
In order to examine these results in more detail, the researchers examined in their cohort study whether patients with previous psychiatric illnesses were at a higher risk of developing Covid-19.
To begin with, the scientists filtered out known risk factors. These include age, gender, weight and previous illnesses such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease.
“We did not expect that the psychiatric history will be an independent risk factor for Covid-19,” explain the scientists in the study. “This finding appears robust, is observed in all age groups and in both sexes, and was significant.”
Form of disease and time of diagnosis not relevant
There was a 65-fold excess of Covid-19 diseases in previously mentally ill people. It made no difference whether the diagnosis was made one or three years ago. The exact diagnosis and the presence of known physical risk factors also had no influence.
“Nevertheless, we interpret this finding cautiously, since a Korean study found no connection between psychiatric diagnosis and Covid-19 diagnosis, albeit in a much smaller sample and with less agreement,” emphasize the study authors.
Why could mental illness affect corona infections?
The authors suspect different explanations for the connection between mental illness and Covid 19 disease. For example, they list behavioral factors: Those who are mentally ill may be less likely to adhere to social distancing recommendations. There are also socio-economic and lifestyle factors such as smoking.
“It could also be that susceptibility to Covid-19 is increased by the pro-inflammatory condition that is said to occur in some forms of psychiatric disorders or to be related to psychotropic drugs,” the study said.
However, the study also has limits to the extent that social and economic factors are not recorded in the network and can still influence the results.
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