Coronavirus Disease 2019 has infected more than 21 million people globally. Fortunately, the recovery rate of COVID19 patients is higher, and millions have recovered so far. But is this the end of the story? What about the mental health of the patients afterwards?
Mental Health & COVID19
Recovering from such contagious viral infection is anything but facile. Patients have to remain isolated from the entire world either in hospital or home, for a significant amount of time. In such case the patient becomes more prone to anxiety and depression in that duration; it is observed in a number of patients, especially after recovery.
According to the US Census Bureau, 1 out of every person in America shows clinical symptoms of anxiety or depression. Being infected by coronavirus would probably increase the number.
Maurizio Fava, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital says; “It’s quite understandable the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause significant stress; psychological distress for a large proportion of the population.”
Anxiety and depression in COVID19 patients
According to a new study by San Raffaele Hospital, Milan Italy; to study the mental state of patients after recovering from coronavirus infection. The study was conducted on 402 patients; consisting of 265 male and 137 females between the age group of 18 to 87 years.
The result revealed that 55.7% of the total some sort of psycho-pathological manifestation. 28% suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 31% claimed to be experiencing depression; 42% with anxiety and 20% with Obsessive Compulsion (OC).
In the survey mostly females were facing problems with mental health. Especially those who already had some history of Psychiatric diagnoses. Patients of the younger age group were found to be targeted more by depression and sleep disturbances; in comparison to the elderly.
What might be causing mental health issues amongst COVID19 patients?
Anxiety, depression, PTSD, OC and sleep disorder in nearly half of the patients have interested researchers. A few studies are being done for knowing the root cause of psychiatric diagnoses amongst people infected by SARS CoV-2.
Most of the studies emphasis more on how the contagious virus is interacting with the central nervous system. University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; the study believes that the main reason behind psychiatric disturbance is because; the virus doesn’t only affect the respiratory system but also the central nervous system.
Ahmad Sedaghat from UC College of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has conducted a survey with his team. They called 114 patients from Kantonsspital Aarau in Aarau, Switzerland; who was diagnosed with the virus for more than six weeks. With a cross-sectional questionnaire.
The surveyed studied loss of taste, smell and various other symptoms of patients; which are usually symptoms of coronavirus infection in a body. In the beginning, researchers found that; 47.5% of the patients were having a depressed mood for a few days per week. Whereas every 1 of 5 patient-reported such moods every day.
In the survey, 44.7% of the participants experienced mild anxiety while severe anxiety experienced by 10.5% of patients. Ahmad Sedaghat said; “This really opens up doors for future investigations to look at how the virus may interact with the central nervous system.”
Patients having treatment from home
A lot of patients infected by SARS CoV-2 are now getting treatment in their homes; because of lack of sufficient beds in hospitals. Therefore, the majority of patients are being treated at home, just after a few days of being hospitalised; until they are in a severe condition.
Patients have to stay completely isolated from everyone for about a month until they test negative for the virus. As the studies are revealing, how the novel coronavirus is affecting the central nervous system of the body; mild anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc, can become prevailing in the patient’s behaviour.
Mental Stress & symptoms
Mental stress is already growing as a result of the financial crisis triggered by the global pandemic. In this time of the epidemic; it is important for the patient to take care of their mental health along with physical health. The most common symptoms are
- Sleep Disturbance
- Substandard Concentration
- Obscure irritation/ aggressiveness
- Hallucination (hearing voices, when nobody is around, etc)
Other than this there are many other type of symptoms that could dictate the mental health of a patient.
Coronavirus is most probably causing mental health issues through two ways; according to the study by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
- Direct viral infection in the Central Nervous System (CNS)
- By indirect immune response
- Cytokine Storm
The study shows that people who have especially survived other infectious outbreak in the past like; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) & Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS); have also reported to had the same psychiatric problems as the survivors of COVID19.
Dr Animesh Arya, senior consultant in respiratory medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute in Delhi, in this case, says; people who have recovered are filled with dilemmas; they constantly fear of being infected again. Such as; have they fully recovered? Are there enough antibodies in their DNA to protect them from the infectious virus?
Therefore if the patient is facing any of such issues after recovery from the infection; it is not something to worry a lot. Keep good care of your mental health and if the severity increases contact the doctor, without any second thought.