New research shows that COVID-19 can cause fatigue and sleep problems, as well as psychiatric complications, long after patients have been diagnosed.

The University of Manchester researchers used an anonymous UK health record database of about 12,000,000 patients to follow those with Covid up to 10 years after diagnosis.

Covid patients had twice the chance of being diagnosed with anxiety, depression or any other serious illness after encountering the disease.

Additionally, they were three times more likely than others to complain of sleep disorders and twice as likely that they would be prescribed psychiatric medication.

A study also found that patients who received negative Covid tests had a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with these conditions. It suggests that there may be other factors to this phenomenon than just the Coronavirus.

The research still points to the potential long-term effects of Covid on mental and sleep health.

A Covid infection can lead to long-term fatigue, sleep issues, and psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression, a new study finds (file image)

New research has shown that Covid infections can cause long-term fatigue and sleep problems, as well as psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression. 

Patients who tested positive for Covid were more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, psychosis, and other conditions (left), as well as more likely to be prescribed common antidepressants and other psychiatric medications (right)

Covid was found in more patients who were positive (left) than those who had been diagnosed with other mental disorders (right).

Long Covid is a chronic condition where patients experience Covid symptoms that last for several weeks to months.

Brain fog is an umbrella term that covers problems with memory and concentration.

A survey conducted internationally among Long Covid patients revealed that approximately nine out of ten reported symptoms relating to neurological and psychiatric disorders, which was months after the diagnosis.

A few studies also suggest that Covid infection may be related to depression and anxiety. This is due to the brain inflammation and immune system.

New evidence has been provided to support the possibility that patients with a Covid diagnosis could have long-term mental problems.

Researchers at Manchester University in the U.K. studied the diagnosis of anxiety, depression and self-harm among Covid patients.

They also investigated the link between Covid, fatigue and sleep issues. Journal of the American Medical Association Open published their study on Tuesday.

The researchers used anonymized health records of the U.K. primary care system to analyze the data. These records include details on symptoms and diagnoses as well as treatments.

Manchester researchers studied patients aged 16 and older who visited a primary health care facility in February 2020.

There were approximately 12 million people in this group, of which 230,000 or about two percent had positive Covid tests results during the period.

Researchers matched patients according to their demographic and medical characteristics in order to compare the clinical outcomes of Covid and non Covid patients. 

The researchers discovered that Covid positive patients were significantly more likely than others to get a diagnosis in the following months.

Positive Covid tests led to an 1.8-times higher likelihood of diagnosis and 2.2 times greater chance of receiving psychiatric medication.

Covid patients were 7.6 times more likely to receive antipsychotic medication and 4.9 times more likely to receive medication for sleep disorders, the researchers found (file image)

The researchers discovered that patients with Covid were 7.6x more likely than others to be prescribed antipsychotic medications and 4.9x more likely to have medication to treat sleep disorders.

However, there were very low risks associated with such a diagnosis.

Only 1.4 percent of Covid patients received a diagnosis of psychiatric disorders six months following their positive tests, as compared with the 0.9 percent who had negative results.

‘For almost all outcomes considered, positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were associated with increased risk,’ the researchers wrote.

Positive patients were 7.6 times more likely to be prescribed antipsychotics and 4.9x higher to have medication to treat sleep disorders.

Patients with Covid were six times more likely than others to experience fatigue, and three times as likely to suffer from sleep difficulties.

According to the research, Covid patients had higher risks. Patients over 80 years old were at 4.2 times the higher risk for a diagnosis of schizophrenia after Covid than non-Covid.

Covid patients suffering from mental illnesses were more likely to receive new antidepressant medications after the case.

This study confirms other studies that Covid may cause mental and sleep disturbances for patients over time.

The study found that those who were negative for Covid had a higher risk of being diagnosed with a mental disorder and experiencing sleep problems.

Researchers conclude that there may have been other factors, not related to coronavirus biology, which could explain the increase in mental cases for both Covid- and non-Covid patients.

The researchers also identified occupation as a factor.

Covid tests are more likely for healthcare workers and essential workers.

Researchers wrote that ‘The negative exposure analysis revealed these factors should be not ignored’. While this doesn’t rule out the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 infecting subsequent mental health problems, there is substantial doubt.

Also, the study has limitations in that it used only past health records and did not interact directly with patients. The researchers also used positive PCR test results to determine a Covid case. This excludes people who were diagnosed but have never had a test.