Anxiety, Depression, Loneliness Are Risk Factors For Long COVID: Study

New Delhi: A person’s mental health has a lot to do with his or her contracting COVID-19. A new study reveals that a person going through phases of anxiety, depression, and loneliness before being infected by coronavirus has a much stronger chance of developing long COVID than those who have good mental health.

The study conducted by researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that psychological distress before COVID-19 infection is associated with an increased risk of long COVID and it was independent of smoking, asthma, and other health behaviours or physical health conditions. The findings have been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. It states that pre-infection psychological distress was associated with the risk of post COVID-19 conditions.

Long COVID is the long-term effects of the SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus, on the body. According to the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it includes a wide range of ongoing health problems, which can last for days, weeks, and even months after you are diagnosed COVID negative.

“We were surprised by how strongly psychological distress before a Covid-19 infection was associated with an increased risk of long Covid. Distress was more strongly associated with developing long Covid than physical health risk factors such as obesity, asthma, and hypertension,” Siwen Wang, a researcher in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School, and lead author of the study was quoted as saying

“Post-Covid conditions are found more often in people who had severe Covid-19 illness, but anyone who has been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 can experience post-Covid conditions, even people who had a mild illness or no symptoms from Covid-19,” CDC notes in its advisory.

The study was conducted among 54,000 people in April 2020, who were asked about their psychological distresses at the beginning of the research. Over the next year, 3000 participants became COVID positive and were then asked about symptoms and symptom duration.

Analysis of the data revealed that mental distress before COVID-19 infection, including depression, anxiety, worry, perceived stress, and loneliness, was associated with a 32-46 per cent increased risk of long COVID, India Today reported.

“We need to consider psychological health in addition to physical health as risk factors of long Covid-19. These results also reinforce the need to increase public awareness of the importance of mental health and to get mental health care for people who need it,” Andrea Roberts, senior research scientist and senior author of the JAMA Psychiatry paper, said in a statement.

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