Severe mental problems may increase COVID-19 death risk

In a new study, researchers found that people with severe mental disorders have a strongly increased risk of dying from COVID-19.

Among the elderly, the proportion of deaths due to COVID-19 was almost three times higher for those with severe mental disorders compared to non-mentally ill people in the same age.

The research was conducted by a team at Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

In the study, the team analyzed data covering the entire Swedish population over the age of 20 during the period from 11 March to 15 June 2020.

Among citizens with a severe mental disorder, 130 people died from COVID-19 during this period, which corresponded to 0.1% of the group.

Among people who had not been diagnosed with a severe mental disorder, the mortality rate was almost halved, 0.06%.

Above all, after the age of 60, people with severe mental disorders had higher excess mortality compared with the general population of the same age.

In the age group 60-79 years, death from COVID-19 was almost four times as common among people with a severe mental disorder.

In the study, the severe mental disorder was referred to as psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The study did not include depression or anxiety in the term, although these conditions can also be severe.

As to what exactly causes the excess mortality in COVID-19 among people with severe mental disorders, the study itself provides no answer.

The team says it might be that severe mental disorders can lead to premature biological aging, that the disease impairs health and the immune system in general or that this group has other risk factors such as obesity.

It is always important to address both, mental and physical health problems of people with these disorders.

One author of the study is Martin Maripuu, an associate professor at Umeå University

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

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