Study finds COVID-19 survivors at higher risk of mental health issues

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Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 8:23 AM CDT
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FLINT, Texas (KLTV) - In the first large-scale study of its kind, researchers found survivors of COVID-19 appear to be at increased risk of anxiety and mood disorders. The study in the Lancet Psychiatric Journal reports a possible link between COVID-19 infections and the following diagnosis of mental health and neurological disorders.

This study looked at the anonymous electronic medical records from over 230,000 COVID-19 survivors -- mostly in the U.S. The findings are consistent with what one East Texas psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Arisco, is seeing within his own practice -- he shares with us the advice he gives his own patient’s.

“[I’m] not really sure they’re directly related. Maybe people are more medicine-oriented, going-to-the-doctor-oriented, but it certainly is a factor in peoples’ mental health,” said D. Arisco.

He says although more studies need to be done, he’s seen proof of these findings in his own practice.

According to Dr. Arisco, “[he’s] seen cases of people who have had COVID-19 who’ve had more emotional problems, anxiety problems, even psychiatric, psychotic illness after having COVID.”

The study reported one-third of virus survivors were diagnosed with a psychological or neurological condition within six months of their infection. Researchers found the most common diagnosis was anxiety. It was found in 17% of the surveyed patients treated for COVID-19. That was followed by mood disorders and insomnia. Dr. Arisco says if you’re predisposed to worry, it’s easy to assign a reason to worry.

“I don’t think you should google things without any guardrails because then you’re going to scare yourself unnecessarily,” he said.

Instead he suggests; “asking your primary care provider is the best place to start, because you know them anyway. You tend to trust them, you’ve chosen them and they tend to have looked into this themselves enough to give you an informed answer.”

He says it’s also important to continue to keep up with educating yourself on what leaders in the health industry are learning because the information around the virus is constantly evolving.

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