Risk for Psychiatric Illness Up in Early Postacute COVID-19 Phase


TUESDAY, June 14, 2022 — Patients are at increased risk for new-onset psychiatric conditions in the early postacute phase of COVID-19 infection, according to a letter to the editor published in the June issue of World Psychiatry.

Ben Coleman, from the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut, and colleagues examined the risk of psychiatric symptoms during or after acute COVID-19 infection in the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) centralized high-granularity electronic health record repository. The N3C included data for 1,834,913 COVID-19-positive patients, with confirmed diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection by polymerase chain reaction or antigen test, and 5,006,352 controls. A total of 245,027 COVID-19 cases were available for propensity matching; the analyses included 46,610 matched patient pairs with COVID-19 and respiratory tract infection other than COVID-19.

The researchers found that the hazard rate of new-onset psychiatric sequelae differed significantly between those with COVID-19 and controls in the early postacute phase (from 21 to 120 days), but not in the late postacute phase (from 121 to 365 days). The estimated incidence proportion of a new-onset psychiatric diagnosis was 3.8 and 3.0 percent for the COVID-19 and control groups, respectively, in the early postacute phase. Findings were similar for anxiety disorders, but not for mood disorders.

“Our results have important implications for understanding the natural history of psychiatric manifestations of COVID-19,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest that health services should consider mental health screening efforts early in the post-COVID clinical course.”

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