One in three COVID-19 patients were diagnosed with a neurological or psychological condition within six months of infection, according to a new study hoping to lay out a treatment plan as we move forward through the pandemic. University of Oxford researchers analyzed the health records of more than 236,379 COVID-19 patients mostly in the US, finding 34% received a diagnosis for a neurological or psychological condition within six months of infection. "That rate increased progressively as the severity of the COVID-19 illness increased," study co-author Maxime Taquet tells CNN, noting 39% of hospitalized patients received a diagnosis. Mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders appeared in 24% of COVID-19 patients, but in 25% of hospitalized patients, 28% of patients in the ICU, and 36% of people who experienced delirium while ill, per the BBC.
COVID-19 patients were 44% more likely to develop a psychological or neurological disorder than those with flu and 16% more likely than those with other respiratory infections. They were rarely diagnosed with stroke (2%), dementia (0.7%) and other neurological disorders but the risk again rose with the severity of illness. In patients admitted to intensive care, 7% had a stroke and 2% were diagnosed with dementia within six months, per Reuters. This increased to 9% and 5% respectively in those who had delirium. "Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial ... due to the scale of the pandemic and that many of these conditions are chronic," says Paul Harrison, lead author of the study published Tuesday in the Lancet. (The same researchers analyzed COVID-19 patients' mental health after three months.)