Anxiety disorders are very common in all parts of the world and the recent stats report them incredibly higher after the appearance of coronavirus, last year. Nearly 40% US population is already living with anxiety symptoms and an on-going pandemic is making them more anxious. And it is not even the worst part; according to a new study people with certain underlying mental disorders have a higher risk of coronavirus death, whether or not they are diagnosed.
A research team from the Umeå University in collaboration with Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) have come up with these new findings suggesting anxiety is increasing the risk of death by coronavirus pandemic. It urges anxiety-patients to be added into the ‘high-risk category’ who can lose their lives due to COVID-19 complications.
This study is published in the journal named Frontiers in Psychiatry.
Most deaths reported in early patients were linked with severe mental diseases implying that anxiety has played a part in the worsening of Covid symptoms. This risk is low with people with no anxiety or related mental disorder.
According to the research team, this high death risk of coronavirus in elders reveals the older patients should be injected with the vaccine on a priority basis.
This research team collected data on people above 20 years of age who lived in Sweden during the time 11 March to 15 June which was the peak of coronavirus pandemic. During this time 130 deaths by coronavirus were identified in people who were previously diagnosed with a mental condition.
Those who were over 60 years of age and diagnosed with mental disorders were at an increased death rate as compared to other people of the same age, without any mental disorder.
The age group of 60 to 80 years reported the highest incidence of death by coronavirus with a four-fold risk. In this study, the term severe mental diseases are used for all psychotic diseases including bipolar diseases, OCD, and schizophrenia. There was no mention of ‘general anxiety disorder’ or ‘depression’ in this whole study although both of them are considered severe psychological diseases.
But why is this death risk by coronavirus higher among people who have underlying mental disorders, the study doesn’t explain anything on this and leaves it an open-ended debate.
Health experts believe that severe mental diseases can sometimes induce early biological aging which affects all body functions, including immunity and respiration, both of which are prime targets of coronavirus.
Untreated PTSD can sometimes be linked to other conditions such as acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder, disinhibited social engagement disorder, and reactive attachment disorder.
Adding up to this, there are many other risk factors that can increase the likelihood of severe COVID complications for example obesity.
They emphasize on focusing mental health problems along with physical health problems instead of leaving them untreated. This is the only way people will finally get a chance to regain control over their brain and body which is mostly lost during an undiagnosed medical condition.