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Bedridden COVID-19 Patients Often Suffer Depression

March 17, 2022 • 5:05 am CDT
Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer
(Coronavirus Today)

The peer-review Lancet Public Health journal published a new study on March 14, 2022, indicating serious COVID-19 illness is linked to an increase in the risk of long-term adverse mental health effects.

These researchers found people diagnosed with COVID-19 but never bedridden due to their illness were less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety than those not diagnosed with COVID-19.

The authors state that one explanation for this is that returning to everyday lives is a relief for these individuals.

However, at the same time, those still not infected are still anxious about the risk of infection and burdened by social isolation.

Overall, participants diagnosed with COVID-19 had a higher prevalence of depression and poorer sleep quality than those who were never diagnosed (20.2% vs. 11.3% experienced symptoms of depression.

And 29.4% vs. 23.8% experienced poor sleep quality; equivalent to an 18% and 13% increase in prevalence, respectively, after adjusting for other factors including but not limited to age, gender, education, body mass index, and previous psychiatric diagnosis.

There were no overall differences between participants with or without COVID-19 in anxiety or COVID-related distress rates.

The analysis found an apparent reduction in mental health symptoms such as depression and COVID-19 related distress with time.

By contrast, longer time bedridden was consistently associated with a higher prevalence of mental health effects.

Over 16 months, patients who were bedridden for seven days or more continued to be 50-60% more likely to experience higher depression and anxiety compared to people never infected during the study period.

Study author Professor Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir of the University of Iceland stated in a press release issued on March 14, 2022: "Our research is among the first to explore mental health symptoms after a serious COVID-19 illness in the general population up to 16 months after diagnosis."

"It suggests that mental health effects aren't equal for all COVID-19 patients and that time spent bedridden is a key factor in determining the severity of the impacts on mental health."

"As we enter the third year of the pandemic, increased clinical vigilance of adverse mental health among the proportion of patients with a severe acute disease of COVID-19 and follow-up studies beyond the first year after infections are critical to ensure timely access to care."

'These findings motivate continued clinical vigilance and follow-up studies beyond the first year among individuals with the most severe symptomology after COVID-19 infections.'

Note: This study and press release were edited for clarity and curated for mobile readers. This work was primarily supported with grants, and the researchers did not disclose industry conflicts of interest.