Twofold Increased Risk for Death From COVID-19 in Psych Patients
More than a year into the Coronavirus pandemic, there have been several risk factors known to increase your risk of hospitalization, or even death, from COVID-19. These medical conditions have been mostly physical: diabetes, cancer and lung disease, for example. However, recently, research has emerged connecting an increased mortality risk and hospitalization from COVID-19 among psych patients.
While previous reports had grouped all psychiatric conditions in the same category, this most recent research begins to explore the nuances between one mental illness and the next.
Why does a psychiatric disorder increase your risk?
At this time, the study conducted in peer-reviewed journal Lancet Psychiatry, does not investigate the cause of the link between mental health and COVID-19 outcomes. However, public health experts have considered possible explanations.
One such speculation is that the cause might be due to biological processes, as mood disorders are associated with immune changes and abnormalities. It could also be the result of lifestyle factors more prevalent among those with mental illness. Things like social isolation, alcohol and tobacco use, lack of exercise, poor sleep habits and an unhealthy diet could potentially contribute to the severity of a COVID-19 infection. There’s also data showing the higher rate of comorbidities, like cardiovascular disease, among those with psychiatric disorders, which could be the reason that having a severe mental disorder increases the risk of death from COVID-19.
Is there a link to psychiatric medications?
Since the study used electronic medical records for its data, researchers couldn’t conduct a deep analysis into the relationship between clinical factors and outcomes. In the cases studied, patients taking antipsychotic medications and those used to treat anxiety did seem to be associated with a higher risk of mortality. This could be because of certain side effects associated with these drugs, like the increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias, or it could stem from interactions between these medications and those used to treat COVID-19 infections.
What can be done to improve outcomes?
The study showed that the risk was more prevalent among infections that were not in a hospital setting. For that reason, those with severe mental illness who test positive for COVID-19 should be carefully monitored and referred to a hospital early on.
If you or someone you know has a mental illness, there are certain precautions you can take to prevent contracting COVID-19. To start, if you haven’t already, getting the COVID-19 vaccine can provide extra protection and lower your risk of a severe infection, hospitalization and death from the disease. Other known preventive measures, including wearing a mask and social distancing, can also help to protect those who have preexisting conditions.
In the event that you experience COVID-19 symptoms, don’t delay getting the proper care. Avail Hospital offers safe, reliable testing with same-day results 24/7/365. We can help you detect a possible infection early on, and if your symptoms are severe, we’re also here to provide state-of-the-art emergency care to help you heal.