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Mental health professionals have been waving a red flag on the pandemic’s inadvertent psychological risks, as well as the psychiatric impact of contracting COVID-19 since its onset.
A study published in The Lancet medical journal in November last year found that 18 per cent of COVID-19 patients developed some sort of mental health issue, like depression or dementia.
Mental health experts told Global News then that a person’s mental health could be impacted greatly after being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease.
What needs to be done now with the review’s findings, according to Rogers, is a look at how to better treat and prevent some of these symptoms in future patients.
Some symptoms and conditions, like strokes and delirium, have treatments readily available, he said, noting, however, that treatments to prevent the risk of more neurological conditions needed “a lot more work.”
One specific condition Rogers said could be treated or worked on right away, though, is PTSD caused by contracting COVID-19.
“I think, in terms of treatment, people have got most excited by PTSD because it’s the mental disorder that you can most clearly link to a specific event,” said Rogers, noting that some therapies, like virtual reality therapy, could be used on a large-scale basis to treat those with the disorder.
Lastly, Rogers raised an important issue revolving around mental health problems caused by COVID-19 and those caused by the government’s response to the pandemic.
“We know that just among the general population, depressive and anxious symptoms are way more common than they were pre-COVID, and so I think governments have a very difficult task in balancing the risks of COVID and the risks of lockdown,” he said.
Experts have warned that the stringent lockdowns stemming from concurrent waves of the pandemic have left many feeling isolated and alone, without having contact with others for extended periods of time.
In an April interview with Global News, University of Toronto psychiatrist and professor Roger McIntyre pointed to Ontario’s most recent lockdown, which incited “rage and despair” against Premier Doug Ford.
McIntyre noted that the unpredictability of provinces having to move into lockdown, despite the increasing ramp-up in COVID-19 vaccinations, created “the straw breaking the camel’s back for many people.”
— with files from Rachael D’Amore, Dave McIvor & Sam Thompson
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