By Emilio Parodi
MILAN, Aug 3 (Reuters) - COVID-19 survivors suffer higher
rates of psychiatric disorders including post-traumatic stress
(PTSD), anxiety, insomnia and depression, according to a study
conducted by San Raffaele hospital in Milan on Monday.
The survey showed that more than half of the 402 patients
monitored after being treated for the virus experienced at least
one of these disorders in proportion to the severity of the
inflammation during the disease.
The patients - 265 men and 137 women - were examined at a
one-month follow-up after hospital treatment.
"It was immediately clear that the inflammation caused by
the disease could also have repercussions at the psychiatric
level," said professor Francesco Benedetti, group leader of the
Research Unit in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology at San
Raffaele, in a statement.
The report was published on Monday in the scientific journal
Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
Based on clinical interviews and self-assessment
questionnaires, physicians found PTSD in 28% of cases,
depression in 31%, anxiety in 42% of patients and insomnia in
40%, and finally obsessive-compulsive symptoms in 20%.
The study shows that women in particular suffered the most
from anxiety and depression, despite the lower severity of the
infection, the statement said.
"We hypothesise that this may be due to the different
functioning of the immune system," said Professor Benedetti.
Finally, less serious psychiatric repercussions have been
found in hospitalised patients than in outpatients.
The psychiatric consequences of COVID-19 can be caused both
by the immune response to the virus itself and by psychological
stress factors such as stigma, social isolation and worries
about infecting others, it said.
The results will underscore growing concerns about potential
debilitating health complications for survivors of the disease.
Earlier this month, scientists warned of a potential wave of
coronavirus-related brain damage in people who have had the
(Reporting by Emilio Parodi
Editing by Josephine Mason and David Gregorio)