50% COVID survivors showing depression and anxiety symptoms: Study – Times of India

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Locking people inside for long, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the mental wellbeing of people and not just the physical health. A significant number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last three years are now dealing with some type of mental disorder, with depression and anxiety being the most common. This World Mental Health Day, Here’s a detailed view of how COVID-19 has affected mental health.
Dr Vikas Gaur, Head of Psychiatry Department at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad said, “In my recent research among people from the general population who suffered from COVID in the last two to three years, about 50% of them are now suffering from mental symptoms of some kind such as depression or anxiety. About 26% of people who were ill with COVID are now suffering from sleep disorders and an equal number from anger-related issues. Interestingly, there is also a substantial rise in the onset of new cases of psychosis, a trend not seen earlier.”
“Elderly people above the age of 60 years are especially affected. About 50% of them are now reporting symptoms of significant anxiety, compared to only 2-3% before the pandemic,” said Dr. Gaur. Many people are dealing with cognitive problems related to memory and concentration after suffering from COVID-19. A high proportion of patients are now seeking medical help for their issues, which was not seen in the pre-COVID times.
“After physically recovering from COVID, from the third week onwards, many patients are reporting mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep disorders. These are new cases due to the neuro-psychiatric manifestation of Long COVID. Most such cases being reported today are from females, or from patients who had physical comorbidities or a history of mental disorders in the past,” said Dr. Gaur.
There exist several theories as to why COVID-19 can trigger mental symptoms. COVID triggers psychiatric symptoms as it significantly increases inflammatory markers in the human brain. In addition, psychosocial issues like social anxiety, loss of job and social isolation, are also shown to be triggering factors for psychiatric symptoms.
“There are some myths regarding mental illness, such as that suffering from psychiatric disorder of some kind is a sign of weakness. Due to this, patients avoid getting treatment. According to WHO, only 7% of patients suffering from psychosis are being treated worldwide. In low-income countries, only 3% of depression cases get treated,” said Dr. Gaur. According to a WHO report in 2019, one in every eight people, or 970 million people around the world, were living with a mental disorder. In 2020, the cases of anxiety and depressive disorders skyrocketed because of the COVID-19 induced lockdowns.
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