Delirium, confusion and agitation can be common in patients hospitalized for severe coronavirus infections, according to a new review of studies. However, most patients are expected to recover in the long term, the researchers said on Monday.
Jonathan Rogers of University College London and his colleagues examined what happened with patients infected with two other coronaviruses: SARS in 2002-2004 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus or MERS, which still causes occasionally cases.
“If infection with [the novel coronavirus] following a course similar to that with SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV, most patients should recover without suffering from mental illness, “wrote Rogers and his colleagues in their review, published in Lancet Psychiatry.
The researchers examined 72 different studies on SARS, MERS and Covid-19 – focusing on the links between illness and psychiatric problems.
Here’s what they found:
- About a third of patients infected with SARS or MERS have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD in about three years.
- About 15% of these patients were diagnosed with depression within approximately two years, and 15% were diagnosed with anxiety after one year.
“Our analysis of over 3,550 cases of coronavirus suggests that most people will not suffer from mental health issues after a coronavirus infection,” said Rogers in a statement.
A certain context: Other teams have reported that delirium is common during and after hospital treatment for Covid-19, as well as for SARS and MERS.
“Although there is little evidence to suggest that common mental illnesses beyond short-term delirium are a hallmark of Covid-19 infection,” said Rogers. “Clinicians should watch for the possibility that common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, fatigue and PTSD may occur in the weeks and months after a serious infection has healed, as has been observed with SARS and the MERS. “
The research team cautioned that many of the studies reviewed were of “low or medium quality” and Rogers stated that more data was needed on the psychiatric symptoms associated with Covid-19.
Monitoring patients for these symptoms, he said, should be part of routine care.