Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, much medical research was carried out with those who tested positive to determine the long-term health consequences after they have recovered from COVID.
More recently, studies have been conducted to establish a greater understanding of the impact to an individual’s mental health during COVID-19 and after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
In a study titled “Bidirectional Associations Between COVID-19 and Psychiatric Disorder” carried out by researchers at Oxford University in England and published in The Lancet Journal on 11/9/2020, their findings showed that 20% of COVID-19 survivors with no previous psychiatric history received a psychiatric diagnosis within 14 to 90 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Most commonly found in COVID-19 survivors were anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
The study was conducted through anonymous assessment of 69.8 million US medical records which included 62,354 COVID survivors, whose answers were compared to cohorts with different health events such as influenza or other respiratory tract infections.
In measuring the outcome probability from 0-100 days for both first and recurring psychiatric illness, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders, the incidence rate was consistently higher for COVID-19 than it was for influenza or other respiratory tract infections.
The study findings also showed that individuals who had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder in the year prior to the pandemic outbreak were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. The differences in relative risk percentage for COVID-19 were small across the different classes of psychiatric diagnosis.
To date, this is the most robust study because of the amount of data and the sample size, and the results indicated that an individual’s psychiatric health will suffer greater impact beyond what is typically seen with other significant health events, and these rates persisted across age and gender.
For most people, COVID-19 is changing many areas of life. To ensure people can still get the care they need in a safe environment, some therapists offer the opportunity to have sessions in the outdoors. One example is talk therapy services offered in Utah through Trail Talk who offer their sessions to help move the body and clear the mind by getting off the couch and onto the trail. If this makes the idea of seeing a professional more approachable, check to see what is available in your area.