Mental health problems can lead to a higher risk of COVID-19 breakthrough cases, the study shows

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People vaccinated against COVID-19, who were diagnosed with certain psychiatric disorders, were more likely to get COVID-19, according to a new study published in the JAMA Network Open.

Researchers from UC San Francisco worked with investigators from the San Francisco VA Health Care System and looked at data from 263,697 patients who had completed their vaccine regimen and had at least one test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. , according to the published report. The researchers said in the study release that over half (51.4%) of study participants were diagnosed with at least one psychiatric diagnosis within the last five years, and nearly 15% had positive tests that showed a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

Businesswoman sleeps by shutting down laptop while working during pandemic.

Businesswoman sleeps by shutting down laptop while working during pandemic.
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Overall, the researchers found that participants with psychiatric disorders had a 3% increased risk of breakthrough COVID-19 infections in 2021 compared to those without a psychiatric history, according to the publication.

Investigators report the risk was higher for those over 65 years of age. According to the publication, people in the age group 65+ who had substance abuse had a 24% higher risk of a breakthrough case, and those with psychotic disorders had a 23% higher risk. The report showed that people with bipolar disorder were 16% more likely to get a breakthrough infection, while those with an adjustment disorder had a 14% risk. People with anxiety disorders had a 12% greater chance compared to those who did not have a psychiatric condition, the report said.

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The study also noted that the younger cohort (those under 65) with a psychiatric disorder had an increased risk of up to 11% for developing a groundbreaking COVID-19 case compared to those without a psychiatric history.

In the younger group, the results showed that participants with a substance abuse disorder were 11% more likely to develop a breakthrough case, while participants with adjustment disorder had a 9% increased risk compared to peers without a psychiatric diagnosis. TheNu study also showed that people under 65 with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder had a 4% and 3% increased chance of getting COVID-19, respectively.

Picture of a nurse comforting an elderly patient.

Picture of a nurse comforting an elderly patient.
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The researchers said that the increased risk of breakthrough cases in people with psychiatric disorders (3% to 16%) was comparable to the increased incidence of breakthrough infections seen in people with certain physical conditions (7% to 23%), such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, the study said.

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“Our results indicate that individuals with psychiatric disorders may be a high-risk group for COVID-19 and that this group should be prioritized for booster vaccinations and other critical preventive measures, including increased SARS-CoV-2 screening, public health campaigns, or COVID-19 discussions. during clinical treatment, “the researchers said in the published study.

A woman is driving in public transportation wearing a mask to protect herself from COVID-19.

A woman is driving in public transportation wearing a mask to protect herself from COVID-19.
(iStock)

Kristen Nishimi, PhD, of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the San Francisco VA Health Care System, explained in the release that the breakthrough cases in the elderly cohort may be caused by a “decreased immunological response to vaccine that has been linked to some psychiatric disorders,” which may be more extensive in older adults. ” Investigators also said the findings may be related to risky behaviors often associated with some conditions, according to the release.

Nishimi, the first author of the study, also suggested in the publication that another possible explanation for the results is that older adults with psychiatric disorders typically receive frequent personal treatment, saying that this “could increase their interactions with the health system.”

Aoife O’Donovan, PhD, of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the San Francisco VA Health Care System said in the publication, “Our research suggests that increased breakthrough infections in people with psychiatric disorders cannot be fully explained by sociodemographic factors or pre-existing conditions. “

O’Donovan, a senior author of the study, also said: “It is possible that post-vaccination immunity declines faster or stronger for people with psychiatric disorders, and / or they could have less protection against newer variants,” according to the release.

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O’Donovan said it is important to consider mental health in relation to other risk factors and that certain patients should be prioritized for boosters and other important preventative measures, according to the release.

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