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PTSD, panic attacks, insomnia: 1 in 5 Covid-19 patients develop mental illness within three months, new study finds

In a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, researchers from the University of Oxford have analyzed electronic medical record of 69 million people living in the US. It included 62,354 individuals who were diagnosed with Covid-19 between January 20 and August 1.

The scientists found that 20 percent of those infected with the coronavirus were diagnosed for the first time with some sort of mental illness within 90 days after testing positive for Covid-19. The main conditions recorded were different anxiety disorders, including adjustment disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder, as well as insomnia and dementia.

“People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings… show this to be likely,” Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry and one of the authors of the study, told Reuters.

Harrison advised health services to be ready to provide psychiatric care, adding that the study’s results were “likely to be underestimates” of the number of psychiatric patients.

In August, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that the ongoing pandemic has been “associated with mental health challenges” related to the deaths caused by Covid-19, as well as by attempts to control the spread of the disease, such as social distancing rules and lockdowns. The CDC said that symptoms of anxiety and depression “increased considerably” across the US from April to June as compared to the same period last year.

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