Long Covid patients are likely to suffer from persistent psychiatric symptoms, like anxiety and depression, according to a study.
Prolonged symptoms of Covid-19 have been found in many patients, often known as long Covid. Psychiatric symptoms are commonly seen in long Covid patients and could last for weeks, even months, after recovery. However, the symptoms and risk factors associated with it remain unclear.
To understand, researchers from Padjadjaran University in Indonesia, conducted a meta-analysis of 23 studies published from January 2020 to October 2021 involving 13 countries in Europe, Asia, and North and South America.
The findings, published in the journal PLoS One, showed that anxiety was the most prevalent symptom in participants with long Covid, followed by depression, sleep difficulties, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Meanwhile, cognitive deficits, obsessive-compulsive and somatic symptoms were the least reported.
Women and those with a history of psychiatric diagnoses were at greater risk for these symptoms.
Sleep difficulties, poor sleep quality, and insomnia were also commonly seen. In addition to being female, obesity was also one of the risk factors for sleep difficulties.
The researchers noted that the physical and psychiatric symptoms may have a reciprocal relationship.
“Mental health issues in long Covid patients were known to be associated with persistent physical symptoms, such as myalgia and shortness of breath,” researchers including Shelly Iskandar from the varsity’s department of Psychiatry wrote in the paper.
“This may be bidirectional. The physical symptoms could result in psychiatric symptoms and the psychiatric symptoms may show as physical symptoms.”
These Covid-related psychiatric complications could become a long-term public health burden, the authors said.
“This condition should be regarded as the potential cause of a delayed pandemic in the medium to long term,” they wrote. “Therefore, it is recommended to closely monitor people experiencing long Covid in the long term.”
Most studies included in the meta-analysis relied on self-report questionnaires, and the authors noted the heterogeneous nature of study designs and outcomes, both of which they said may complicate interpretation of the results.