Having a history of a psychological test can cause prolonged Covid, says the study


You may have a 50% higher risk of developing prolonged Covid-19 if you suffer from common psychiatric problems such as anxiety or depression, a recent study has found.

Signs of the disease can include breathing problems, brain fog, chronic cough, changes in taste and smell, extreme fatigue, difficulty performing daily life functions, and sleep disturbances that can last for months, even years, after the infection clears the body. .

People who have identified themselves having or who felt anxiety, depression or loneliness Those who were highly stressed or frequently worried about the coronavirus were more likely to experience prolonged Covid-19, according to research published this month in JAMA Psychiatry.

“We found that participants with two or more types of psychological distress before infection had a 50% higher risk of prolonged Covid,” said Dr. Siwen Wang, a researcher in the department of nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Health in Boston.

About 40 million adults over the age of 18 in the United States live with an anxiety disorder, and more than 21 million. they have suffered from great depression, according to national statistics. Many mental health conditions often overlap, with concurrent diagnoses, experts say. More than a fifth of adults in the US (22%) and in the UK (23%) say they often or always feel lonely, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

“Having higher levels of psychological distress before a Covid infection also increased the risk of prolonged Covid by 50%,” Wang said. “Those people also reported more symptoms seen during prolonged Covid.”

Some may use the study’s findings to support a post-Covid disease hypothesis. it’s psychosomatic, a prevailing belief in the early days of the pandemic, said Dr. Wesley Ely, professor of medicine and critical care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He did not participate in the study.

Instead, the study’s message is that people with pre-existing psychological distress are closer to the “catastrophe” of prolonged Covid, said Ely, director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survival.

“Imagine 10 people are running a race, and you start five people,” Ely said. “Those are the ones who had a mental health problem; they are closer to the unfortunate destination of getting prolonged Covid.”

The idea that mental stress can affect the body in negative ways is not new. It is also a two-way street: having a chronic illness is closely related to the development of depression and other psychological disorders.

With common infectious disorders like heart disease, “depression/anxiety/emotional restlessness seems to play a big role,” said Dr. Joseph Bienvenu, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. , in an email. He was not involved in the study.

People with major depression can develop blood pressure problems and are more likely to have heart attacks. Chronic depression, stress, and anxiety have been linked to insomnia, and lack of quality sleep is a major culprit in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other disorders.

And psychological distress has been shown to weaken the immune system, said study author Dr. Angela Roberts, associate professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Stanford University in California.

“Your brain and your immune system are very closely linked,” Roberts said. “Studies have shown that when you’re depressed or anxious, your immune system doesn’t work well against targets like viruses and bacteria.”

To conduct the new study, researchers worked with nearly 55,000 people without a history of Covid-19 who were enrolled in three large longitudinal studies: the Nurses’ Health Study II, the Nurses’ Health Study 3, and the Growing Up Today Study. Participants in those studies tend to be women and white, which may limit the generalizability of the results to a broader population, the study says.

Participants were asked about their mental health in April 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. They continued to complete mental health surveys monthly for six months, then quarterly. At the end of a year, the researchers developed Covid-19 and narrowed the pool of subjects down to nearly 3,200 people who met the study criteria.

“This study is particularly nice because the participants’ baseline characteristics were assessed independently of time from post-Covid symptoms,” at Johns Hopkins. He said welcome.

Compared to people without mental distress, those with depression and loneliness were 1.32 times more likely to develop prolonged symptoms of Covid. Participants who worried a lot about the coronavirus (mostly people of color, women and people with asthma) were 1.37 times more likely to develop prolonged Covid, according to the study.

Anxiety was associated with a higher risk – 1.42 times more likely – but people with higher levels of perceived stress were almost 50% more likely to develop post-Covid symptoms, said Wang, the study’s author.

All links between psychological distress and prolonged Covid was significant even after researchers adjusted for demographics, body weight, smoking status, and history of asthma, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Furthermore, with the exception of loneliness, all types of psychological distress were associated with increased risk of performing activities of daily living due to continuous time. covid symptoms

While many cases of prolonged Covid are mild and resolve within a few months, other patients continue to suffer for long periods of time. Some still haven’t regained their quality of life more than two years into the pandemic, according to Dr. Aaron Friedberg, a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine who works in the Post-Covid Recovery Program at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. .

“They can’t think, they can’t breathe. I have a person whose illness is so severe, he basically can’t get out of bed,” Friedberg told CNN in an earlier interview. “I recently saw a person who two years later is still not working because of the symptoms of Covid.”