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Covid infection increases risk of mental health disorders, study finds

Researchers note need to follow patients after recovery for any emerging disorders

By Nick Murray · February 28, 2022

Having Covid-19 puts people at a significantly increased chance of developing new mental health conditions, potentially adding to existing crises of suicide and overdoses, according to new research looking at millions of health records in the US over the course of a year.

The long-term effects of having Covid are still being discovered, and among them is an increased chance of being diagnosed with mental health disorders. They include depression, anxiety, stress and an increased risk of substance use disorders, cognitive decline, and sleep problems – a marked difference from others who also endured the stress of the pandemic but weren’t diagnosed with the virus.

“This is basically telling us that millions and millions of people in the US infected with Covid are developing mental health problems,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, chief of research and development at the VA St Louis Healthcare System and senior author of the paper. “That makes us a nation in distress.”

“This is really almost a perfect storm that is brewing in front of our eyes – for another opioid epidemic two or three years down the road, for another suicide crisis two or three years down the road,” Al-Aly added.

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