Testing positive for COVID-19 linked to fatigue, mental illness, and sleep problems

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In a new study from The University of Manchester, researchers found those who tested positive for COVID-19 (confirmed by a PCR test) had an increased risk of mental illness, fatigue and sleep problems.

They found there was an almost six-fold increase in the likelihood of reporting fatigue to a physician following a positive PCR test.

There is also a threefold increase in the risk of sleep problems compared to those without a positive test, for people who haven’t previously visited their physician for any of these reasons in the past.

In the study, the team analyzed the electronic primary care health care records of 226,521 people from across the UK between February 2020 and December 2020.

They found there was also an 83% increase in mental illness following a positive PCR test.

However, there was also a 71% increase in the risk of mental illness for people who received a negative PCR test compared to the general population.

Researchers believe this throws some doubt about whether COVID-19 is directly causing mental illness, because it is clear that those who get a test are more likely to have risk factors for mental illness, for example, pandemic-related anxieties.

The findings align with those revealing elevated risks of mental illness, self-harm, fatigue, and disrupted sleep patterns among people testing positive for infection during the pandemic.

Establishing the mechanisms that have caused these outcomes to occur is the next major challenge for researchers in the field.

The team says it is vital that general practitioners recognize the long-term impact of COVID-19 infection on their patient population.

Offering follow-up to people who test positive for COVID-19 infection may help identify persisting symptoms and sign-post people to the Your COVID Recovery website.

The increased risk of developing mental health problems in people who tested negative may be due to health anxiety in these patients, and primary care has a role in identifying and supporting such patients.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about COVID-19 may cause Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia and findings of COVID-positive people have more severe strokes.

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about opioid overdoses spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic and results showing that people with type 2 diabetes are hit harder by COVID-19.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author of the study is Dr. Matthias Pierce.

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