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Study shows nearly 1 in 5 COVID-19 survivors develop psychiatric disorder in 90 days

One study looked at electronic health records of 62,000 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. The complete data set included 69.8 million patients, in order to compare COVID-19 patients with other unrelated health events. The study found that 18.1% (almost 1 in 5) of patients with COVID-19 were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days of their first diagnosis of COVID-19.

A total of 18.1% of patients with COVID-19 developed a psychiatric disorder within 90 days, “including 5.8% (5.2-6.4) who were the first diagnosis.” At the time of diagnosis, a surprising 25.6% of patients with COVID-19 were diagnosed as positive for a psychiatric illness.

The 5.8% metric is responsible for those COVID-19 patients who developed a psychiatric illness in 90 days and NEVER had a diagnosis of psychiatric illness before.

The results were compared to six other health events, including flu, other infections of the respiratory tract, skin infection, cholelithiasis, urolithiasis and fracture of a large bone. Patients with COVID-19 were 1.8 to 2.5 times more likely to have any psychiatric diagnosis than patients with influenza (flu).


Anxiety disorder was the most frequent psychiatric diagnosis for patients with COVID-19. The study found that the probability of a COVID-19 patient developing an anxiety disorder within 90 days was 4.7%. The anxiety disorders developed by patients with COVID-19 included adjustment disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and “to a lesser extent, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder”.

It is important to note that the study excluded all patients who had died at the time of the analyzes. It is also important to pay attention to the study’s interpretation section, which says “Although preliminary, our findings have implications for clinical services, and prospective cohort studies are needed.”

For more information about the study, take a look at the article Bidirectional associations between COVID-19 and psychiatric disorder: retrospective cohort studies of 62,354 cases of COVID-19 in the USA, as published on November 9, 2020 in the scientific publication The Lancet . This article can be found under the DOI code: 10.1016 / S2215-0366 (20) 30462-4 authored by Maxime Taquet, PhD, Sierra Luciano, BA, Prof John R Geddes, FRCPsych, and Prof Paul J Harrison, FRCPsych.

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