Research has found that nearly 25% of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 could experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and delirium during long-term recovery.
The research compiled the results of 65 other studies that included observation of 3,500 hospitalized Coronavirus (including SARS, MERS and COVID-19) patients and tracked some patients for 12 years.
“Most people with COVID-19 will not develop any mental health problems, even among those with severe cases requiring hospitalization, but given the huge numbers of people getting sick, the global impact on mental health could be considerable,” wrote Dr Jonathan Rogers, co-lead author of the study.
“Our analysis focuses on potential mental health risks of being hospitalized with a coronavirus infection, and how psychiatric conditions could worsen the prognosis or hold people back from returning to their normal lives after recovering.”
Almost one in three hospitalized with SARS eventually experienced PTSD. 30% showed some form of depression and anxiety for years after initial recovery. More than 15% experienced chronic fatigue, mood swings and sleep disorders.
Research is still unclear on PTSD’s effect on COVID-19 patients.
The research has also identified other significant risk factors that impact the severity of mental health struggles. For example, incessant worry over COVID-related illnesses worsens mental health, and people who work in healthcare also exhibited more significant long-term mental health problems.
Author Dr. Edward Chesney stressed that more research is required to determine how to prevent mental health struggles in the long term. “One possibility might be to reduce social isolation by allowing patients to communicate with their loved ones by using video links.”
Senior author Anthony David expressed hope that hospitalized patients will be provided the assistance they need to overcome systemic mental health struggles.
“To avoid a large-scale mental health crisis,” David said, “we hope that people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 will be offered support, and monitored after they recover to ensure they do not develop mental illnesses, and are able to access treatment if needed.”
The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research.