As we start to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, medical experts say a new health crisis is emerging.
New research found that as many as one in three people infected with COVID-19 were diagnosed with at least one neurological or psychiatric disorder.
The findings were published this week in the Journal Lancet Psychiatry.
“The experience of having COVID-19 can be a very traumatic experience for many people and that can induce other behavioral health issues,” said Lucy Horton, MD, infectious disease physician with UCSD Health.
Dr. Horton oversees a post-COVID care clinic. She said the findings in the Lancet Journal align well with what she sees here in San Diego.
“A lot of my patients who have been suffering from long COVID have psychiatric or neurologic problems and those symptoms are some of the most common symptoms that we hear about,” said Dr. Horton.
The study looked at the health records from more than 230,000 COVID-19 patients in the U.S. It found one in every three COVID patients they examined developed at least one neurological or psychiatric disorder in the six months after becoming ill.
The most common diagnoses were anxiety and mood disorders
“A lot of these patients were quite healthy before acquiring COVID and it's devastating for them that they can't get back to their baseline level of functioning,” said Dr. Horton.
Rates of strokes, dementia, and nerve disorders were also higher than normal among the COVID-19 survivors.
“What is really concerning is how these symptoms seem to affect both quality of life and the ability to function," Dr. Horton said.