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Study finds 1 in 3 COVID-19 survivors have neurological or mental health disorders

Scientists followed 240,000 people who had COVID-19. For about 13% of them, this is the first time they've been diagnosed with any neurological symptoms.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A new large-scale study shows one-third of people diagnosed with COVID-19 had neurological or mental health disorders within six months of testing positive. 

The study published in Lancet Psychiatry looked at 240,000 people who had COVID-19, as well as people who had the flu or respiratory tract infections. It found 34% of people who had the coronavirus were diagnosed with brain or mental health disorders.

Furthermore, the study found 17% had an anxiety disorder, 14% were diagnosed with a mood disorder, 7% had a substance abuse problem and 5% had insomnia. 

Dr. Mohammed Reza, an infectious disease specialist, said COVID-19 survivors have a 44% greater risk of these issues compared to people who had the flu.

“About 13% of people who had these neurological symptoms, this was the first time they had a diagnosis of any neurological symptoms," Reza explained. "That was pretty surprising. It’s a good number of people after COVID that are having these neurological or mood disorders.”

Reza said if you notice the symptoms, and you've had COVID-19, reach out to your doctor. He also says to get lots of sleep, keep your mind active and eat a healthy diet.

“Other things are being physically active," Reza said. "Pay attention to any type of confusion onsets, depression symptoms, especially after COVID, anxiety, and talk to your primary care doctor. Talk to a psychiatrist. Get that medical help you need. Follow up closely.”

The study found people who were in the hospital or ICU were more likely to have these long-term symptoms.