Researchers have concluded that mental health conditions can make people more likely to get severely ill from Covid, with the US’s public health agency changing its guidance in response to the findings.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added mental health illnesses, including depression and schizophrenia, to its list of health conditions that make people more vulnerable to Covid-19.
The CDC advises clinicians to encourage patients to keep appointments, and continue wearing a mask and social distancing from patients.
The decision was based on two meta-analyses published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry.
The first was a review of 21 studies involving more than 91 million people. It concluded that individuals with pre-existing mood disorders are at higher risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid, and should be categorised as an at-risk group as such.
‘Mood disorders are associated with impaired immune function and social determinants that increase the risk of Covid-19,’ the paper states.
The second study reviewed 16 population studies across seven countries, and found that mental health disorders were associated with increased Covid-related death. Those most at risk had schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorders.
‘Patients with mental health disorders should have been targeted as a high-risk population for severe forms of Covid-19, requiring enhanced preventive and disease management strategies,’ the paper states.
There is no similar classification or advice in the UK that associates mental illness with Covid-risk, however a UK Health Security Agency spokesperson told Pulse that it will ‘continue to keep all evidence under review’.
The news comes as last year, researchers found that people who survived Covid were more likely to develop mental health problems.
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