People who have recovered from COVID-19, even mild cases, are at a significantly increased risk of developing a range of Mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and cognitive impairment. The study released Thursday looked at millions of health records over a year. Al-Aly led the study published Thursday in the BMJ medical journal.
Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, chief of research and development for the VA St. Louis Health Care System and clinical epidemiologist at Washington University, said that they knew that the U.S. population’s Mental health was generally affected by the pandemic. Still, we didn’t know what happened to people specifically with COVID-19, and did they have it worse? Al-Aly’s team used the VA’s robust electronic health records system for the study. They identified more than 150,000 VA patients who got COVID-19 between March 2020 and January 2021 and followed them for a year.
The average age of those in the study was 61, and 90% were men. But Al-Aly said because of the sheer numbers of those studied; there was a significant enough number of women and those in all age groups to reach the same conclusions. The findings were the increase in opioid prescriptions and abuse among those with COVID-19. Just before the start of the pandemic, he said, the U.S. was seeing a downward trend in overdose deaths after years of attention on how opioids were prescribed.