Psychiatric conditions make breakthrough COVID-19 case more likely, study reveals

Meanwhile, people under 65 years of age with psychotic conditions like schizophrenia were less likely to get Covid-19 post-vaccination and according to O’Donovan this might be because of social isolation.

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The researchers revealed the correlation was much stronger in people in age group 65 years and above. (File)

A recently published study has revealed that people diagnosed with a psychiatric condition are more likely to catch Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated. The findings of the study were published in JAMA Open Network. During the study the scientists used health records from more than 260,000 people from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The researchers revealed the correlation was much stronger in people in age group 65 years and above. According to the team, this might be possible from having a psychiatric condition and the circumstances that can lead to psychiatric conditions — battering the immune system.

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that chronic stress, traumatic stress, and psychiatric conditions can actually accelerate cellular aging. It’s putting you at risk for appearing older biologically, and for your immune system, in particular, to function like the immune system of someone who’s older than you, and that’s certainly seen in patients with psychiatric disorders,” Aoife O’Donovan, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and one of the study authors said.

The scientists found that people with any psychiatric diagnosis were 3.7 percent more likely to develop a breakthrough infection of COVID-19. This was after researchers adjusted calculations to account for relevant factors more common to V.A. patients.

Among the types of diagnoses, non-alcohol substance abuse issues had the greatest correlation to breakthrough cases, increasing risk by 16 percent. Patients who feel unusual stress or sadness in response to a life event, linked to a 13-percent increase in risk, followed by anxiety conditions (eight percent), bipolar disorder (seven percent) alcohol use disorder (five percent), depression (five percent), and post-traumatic stress disorder (three percent).

Meanwhile, people under 65 years of age with psychotic conditions like schizophrenia were less likely to get Covid-19 post-vaccination and according to O’Donovan this might be because of social isolation. But for those older than 65, psychotic conditions were highly correlated with the risk of a breakthrough infection, increasing risk by a whopping 26 percent.

During the study, the researchers used the records of 263,697 fully vaccinated V.A. patients, 51 percent of whom had at least one psychiatric diagnosis. About 15 percent experienced a breakthrough infection.

According to the scientists, the study indicates that psychiatric conditions impact the immune system. “The findings are unlikely to be specific to Covid-19 but are much more likely to generalize to other infections. An obvious issue is risk for the flu and prevention of the flu,” O’Donovan said. The scientists are hopeful that the findings give reason to consider mental health when crafting responses to Covid-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks.

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