Study finds mental health issues may lead to higher risk of COVID-19 cases 

People vaccinated against COVID-19 who were diagnosed with certain mental disorders were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open. 

The UC San Francisco researchers worked with researchers at the San Francisco VA Health Care System and looked at data from 263,697 patients who had completed their vaccination regimen and who had undergone at least one COVID-19 CoV-2 screening test. SARS, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection, according to the published report. The researchers said in the study release that more than half (51.4 %s) of study participants had at least one psychiatric diagnosis in the past five years and that nearly 15 %s had had positive tests showing breakthrough case of COVID-19. 

Overall, the researchers found that participants with psychiatric disorders had a 3 % increased risk of breakthrough COVID-19 infections in 2021 compared to those without a psychiatric history, according to the release. . 

Investigators report that the risk was higher for people over 65. According to the statement, people aged 65 and over who had substance abuse problems had a 24 % higher risk of breakthrough cases and those with psychotic disorders had a 23 % higher risk. The report found that people with bipolar disorder were 16 % more likely to get a breakthrough infection, while those with adjustment disorder had a 14 % risk. People with anxiety problems had a 12 % higher risk than those without a psychiatric condition, the report said. 

The study also noted that the younger cohort (those younger than 65) with a mental disorder had an increased risk of up to 11 % of developing a breakthrough case of COVID-19, compared to those who had no psychiatric history. 

In the younger group, results showed that participants with substance use disorder were 9 % more likely to develop a breakthrough case, while participants with adjustment disorder had an increased risk of 9 % per compared to peers without a psychiatric diagnosis. The Nu study also found that people under the age of 65 with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder had a 4 % and 3 % increased risk of contracting COVID-19, respectively. 

The researchers said that the increased risk of breakthrough infection in people with psychiatric disorders (3 % to 16 %) was comparable to the increased incidence of breakthrough infection seen in people with certain physical conditions (7 % to 23 %) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, according to the study. 

"Our findings indicate that people with psychiatric disorders may be a high-risk group for COVID-19 and that this group should be prioritized for booster vaccinations and other critical prevention efforts, including increased screening. of SARS-CoV-2, public health campaigns, or discussions of COVID-19 during clinical care,” the researchers said in the published study. 


Kristen Nishimi, Ph.D., of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the San Francisco VA Health Care System, explained in the statement that the breakthrough cases in the older cohort could be caused by a “re-increased immunological response to the vaccine which has been associated with certain psychiatric disorders, which may be more prominent in older people”. Investigators also said the results could be linked to risky behaviors that are often associated with certain conditions, according to the Liberation. 

Dr Nishimi, who is the study's first author, also suggested in the statement that another possible explanation for the findings is that older people with mental disorders typically receive frequent in-person treatment and said this "could increase their interactions with the health care system”. 

Aoife O'Donovan, Ph.D., of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the San Francisco VA Health Care System, said in the statement, "Our research suggests that the increase in breakthrough infections in people with mental illnesses cannot be fully explained by socio-demographic factors or pre-existing conditions”.  

O'Donovan, who is the lead author of the study, also said: "It is possible that immunity after vaccination wanes faster or more steeply for people with psychiatric disorders and/or that they may have less protection against new variants,” he said in the statement. 

O'Donovan said it's important to consider mental health in conjunction with other risk factors and that certain patients should be prioritized for recalls and other important prevention efforts, according to the release. 

 EDITOR: Mackendy Filderice 


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Mackendy Filderice
Political science student at Quisqueya University, Journalist-Editor at Netalkolemedia, Publicist, Humanitarian. Lover of life and learning.