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Study: COVID-19 can lead to psychiatric disorders

Lancet Psychiatry warns of mental health issues
Poor mental health reduces life expectancy, says study
Posted at 6:16 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 18:36:43-05

BEREA, Ohio — Inability to focus, loss of smell and taste and extreme fatigue are familiar symptoms triggered by the coronavirus.

"I could not think of the next thing in my head that I needed to do, and I could not stop crying," said Denise Meyer.

There's a less talked about and serious ailment survivors of COVID-19 could face.

The body's physical response may impact a person's psyche.

"I started out with a fever of 101.7," said Meyer.

Meyer is one of the millions of Americans infected with the coronavirus.

"The mental confusion part of it really scared me," said Meyer.

While her physical symptoms have subsided, 20% of patients like her are at risk of developing a psychiatric disorder within 90 days of diagnosis.

"When that is over, you're still dealing with the aftereffects of that. Recovery is not a straight path," said Courtney Yergin with Ohio Guidestone.

The findings from a recent Lancet Psychiatry journal warn of increased risk of depression, anxiety and difficulty functioning day-to-day.

"In terms of restlessness, irritability, unable to concentrate, unable to sleep at night, with COVID, there's that level of toxic stress," said Yergin. "It was something we were anticipating."

Ohio Guidestone, one of the state's largest behavioral health providers, is trying to keep up with demand as more coronavirus survivors find themselves improving physically but not mentally.

"We were very much prepared that there was going to be a major surge in mental health needs. We're seeing the need is very, very, high," said Yergin.

While Denise Meyer feels like she's fully back-on-track after her bout with COVID-19, the soon-to-be social worker at Ohio Guidestone is encouraging anyone struggling through this pandemic to reach out for help.

"If you're thrown off your routine, if you are thrown off your lifestyle, if you're told to stay at home, that may affect you a lot. It's not to say that you can't get back on the regular road that you were on because I have gotten that," said Meyer.