Findings from a new study revealed that 20% of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 were diagnosed with some form of mental illness within 90 days of contraction. A number of those included in that percentage developed illnesses like insomnia, anxiety and depression, despite recovering from the virus, Reuters reports.
The study, conducted by researchers at Britain’s Oxford University, also found that people who already suffer from mental health issues were 65% more likely to contract COVID-19. According to Simon Wessely, a regius professor from King’s College London, COVID-19 “affects the central nervous system, and so might directly increase subsequent disorders.”
Michael Bloomfield, a consultant psychiatrist at University College London, added that the emotional and physical stressors of the pandemic could also be adding to the spike in mental illness diagnoses. Mental health hotlines worldwide have seen a major boom in calls since the pandemic started in March.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, says that she has seen the tangible results of the Oxford study within her own organization. “Our helpline is dealing with an increasing number of first-time callers who are being triggered into mental health problems,” Wallace said.
Researchers and doctors are finding that there is more to be discovered about this unprecedented virus as new developments are released every few weeks.