Linking COVID to Suicide: Scientists Warn of a Hidden Crisis

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 COVID link to suicide: scientists warn of hidden crisis

ProtractedCOVID— it is a complex disease that is difficult to diagnose as it has over 200 symptoms, some of which may resemble other illnesses from exhaustion and cognitive impairment to pain, fever and palpitations.

There are no reliable data on the frequency of suicide among patients. Several scientists from organizations, including from the US National Institutes of Health and the British statistical agency, are only beginning to study a potential link after an increase in cases of depression and suicidal thoughts among people with a long course of COVID, as well as a growing number documented suicides.

“I'm sure that prolonged COVID is associated with suicidal thoughts and risk of suicidal death. We just don't have complete epidemiological data,” — said Leo Sher, a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Health System in New York who studies mood disorders and suicidal behavior.

Among the key questions that researchers are now investigating is the potential increase in the risk of suicide. The main reasons may be changes in the biology of the brain of patients under the influence of the virus and the loss of their former capacity due to severe pain and inflammation of the brain caused by the long course of COVID.

An analysis by Seattle-based health statistician Truveta found that patients with long-term COVID are almost twice as likely to receive their first antidepressant prescription within 90 days of being diagnosed with COVID, compared to people with normal COVID-19.

The analysis was based on data from 20 major US hospital systems and included more than 1.3 million adults diagnosed with COVID and 19,000 adults diagnosed with protracted COVID between May 2020 and July 2022.< br />
The potential long-term effects of COVID-19 are still poorly understood. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, about 15% of patients with protracted COVID have symptoms for more than 12 months. There is no proven effective treatment yet, and debilitating symptoms can lead to to being unable to work and becoming disabled.

The consequences of prolonged COVID, potentially associated with an increased risk of mental illness and suicide, are very serious; in America alone, up to 23 million people have been affected by this disease, according to estimates of the Accounting US Government House in March.

The lingering COVID has also forced about 4.5 million people out of work, about 2.4% of the U.S. workforce, employment expert Katie Bach of the Brookings Institution told Congress in July.

IHME estimates that worldwide, nearly 150 million people developed long-term COVID during the first two years of the pandemic.

In many developing countries, the lack of surveillance for long-term COVID makes the picture even bleaker, said Murad Khan, Professor of Psychiatry at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, which is part of an international panel of experts studying the risk of suicide associated with COVID-19.

The US National Institutes of Health is tracking mental health impacts as part of their $470 million RECOVER study on long-term COVID .First results on levels of anxiety and depression are expected by early September, but suicide information will take longer, lead researcher said Professor Dr. Stuart Katz.

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