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Positive SARS-CoV-2 Test Result Linked to Psychiatric Morbidity

However, risk for incident psychiatric morbidity was similar for those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test result and was higher with influenza

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THURSDAY, Nov. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Having a positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) test result seems to be associated with an increased risk for psychiatric morbidity, fatigue, and sleep problems, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in JAMA Network Open.

Kathryn M. Abel, M.D., Ph.D., from the Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed the risk for incident or repeat psychiatric illness, fatigue, or sleep problems following SARS-CoV-2 infection among patients from a U.K. primary care registry who were 16 years of age or older. Patients were followed from Feb. 1 to Dec. 9, 2020. Of 11,923,105 eligible individuals, 2.0 percent had a positive result on a SARS-CoV-2 test.

After applying selection criteria, the matched cohort without prior mental illness included 86,922 individuals, while 19,020 individuals had prior anxiety or depression, 1,036 had psychosis, 4,152 had fatigue, and 4,539 had sleep problems. The researchers found an association between positive SARS-CoV-2 test results and psychiatric morbidity, fatigue, and sleep problems after adjustment for observed confounders (adjusted hazard ratios, 1.83, 5.98, and 3.16, respectively). The risk for incident psychiatric morbidity was similar for those with a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.71) and was larger in association with influenza (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.98).

"We found that SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed with a positive polymerase chain reaction test result was associated with increased risk of incident psychiatric morbidity, sleep problems, and fatigue in the following months," the authors write. "However, sensitivity analyses provided doubt about whether some of these outcomes were directly associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection."

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