People with mood disorders have a higher risk of Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation, and death

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  • People with depression and bipolar disorder are more likely to develop severe Covid-19.
  • They also have a higher risk of death.
  • Researchers suggest that they should be considered a high-risk group, just like people with comorbidities.

People with mood disorders should be categorised as a high-risk group for Covid-19 hospitalisation and death, and should be prioritised for vaccination, a new study finds.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, assessed whether people with preexisting mental health disorders have a  higher risk of Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation, severe complications, and death. Mood disorders include all types of depression and bipolar disorder.

Sifting through studies

The study authors searched through 1 950 journal articles, and 21 studies were chosen as relevant papers for the systematic review.

The inclusion criteria of the articles were based on quantitative Covid-19 data in persons with mood disorders compared to people without mood disorders of any age, sex, and nationality.

The systematic review involved more than 91 million people, specifically those with higher odds of Covid-19 hospitalisation.

The risk of mental health disorders

The study findings show that there is a higher risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation in people with preexisting mood disorders compared to people without mood disorders. However, the research found no associations between Covid-19 susceptibility and mental health.

The results also show that the risk of death from Covid-19 is higher in people with mood disorders compared to those without mood disorders.

The study authors believe that, based on their findings, people with mood disorders should be categorised as a Covid-19 risk group – the same as people with comorbidities.

"These results suggest that individuals with mood disorders, like persons with other preexisting conditions (e.g., obesity), should be categorised as an at-risk group on the basis of a preexisting condition. Future research should address whether Covid-19 vaccinations exhibit differential efficacy in persons with mood disorders and whether Covid-19 infection affects the longitudinal trajectory of the underlying mental disorder," the authors wrote.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | Eye damage may be a sign of 'long Covid', according to research

READ | Covid-19: Eight-week gap between Pfizer’s first and second vaccine shot boosts immunity – UK study

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