2 min read
15 Oct

/blog/people-with-coronavirus-symptoms-more-likely-to-have-psychiatric-disorders-and-lonelinessPeople who have or had COVID-19 symptoms are more likely to develop general psychiatric disorders and are lonelier, with women and young people more at risk.

Having a job and living with a partner are significant protective factors against general psychiatric disorders and loneliness, says the study in the journal Psychiatry Research, based on 15,530 UK respondents, which is described as the first such large-scale, nationally representative survey in a developed country.

Although there has been previous research on specific coronavirus-related disorders such as anxiety, depression and insomnia, prior to this research  there has been little knowledge about the broader psychological impact of the pandemic on a wider population. 

Focusing on specific disorders alone underestimates the psychiatric burdens of the pandemic in more subtle forms and overlooks the needs for psychiatric care of the people who have not been clinically diagnosed, the minor psychiatric disorders are often less urgent concerns of the public health policies, they are not negligible given the large proportion of the population that have been affected,” based on analysis by Lambert Zixin Li of Stanford University.  However, based on the 12 items in the widely accepted General Health Questionnaire, which looks at factors ranging from depressive anxiety symptoms to confidence to overall happiness, while loneliness was assessed by a question adapted from the English Longitudinal Study on Aging about how often respondents felt lonely, it is proven that loneliness is linked to long-term health outcomes including all-cause mortality, which is why public health policies need to be aware of the (mental) health consequences of the disease control measures of covid-19.

According to a recent research released by the University of Cambridge, the research found that 29.2 per cent of all respondents (representing the general British population) scored ‘4’ (the “caseness” or clinical referral threshold) or more on a five-point scale for general psychiatric disorders, while 35.86 per cent of respondents sometimes or often feel lonely; further analysis of the results showed that “People with current or past COVID-19 symptoms were perhaps more likely to develop general psychiatric disorders because they are more anxious about infection, and their greater loneliness may reflect the fact that they were isolated from family and friends.

Women and young people (aged 18-30) are significantly more at risk from general psychiatric disorders and loneliness, compared to older people, these younger people’s social and economic lives are more disrupted by the public health crisis.