People with mental illnesses face an increased risk of contracting and dying from more severe forms of the emerging coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to a recent study that called for priority for these people in vaccination campaigns.

The situation may be attributed to “obstacles they face in benefiting from medical treatments” and “immuno-inflammatory changes caused by mental disorders” in themselves, or to the effects of the treatments they are subjected to, according to what two of the study’s authors said in a statement published by the Foundation Fundamental" - and quoted by the French Press Agency - which includes under its banner a network of researchers in the field of mental illness.

This article provides a summary of 33 studies published on this issue in 22 countries, concluding that people with mental disorders face a two times higher risk of death from corona, compared to others with the virus.

This specifically applies to people who suffer from psychotic disorders, mood swings, addiction, or delays in mental development, but it does not apply to those who suffer from anxiety disorders.

Taking sedative and antidepressant medications greatly increases the risk of death.

higher risk

This study, published in the British journal "The Lancet Psychiatry" on July 15, showed that patients with mental disorders face a 2.2 times higher risk of being hospitalized when infected with Covid-19.

Another hypothesis put forward to explain this increased risk is “sedative therapies that may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and thrombosis, affect the immune response and interact with drugs used to treat Covid-19,” says Marion LeBoyer, director of the Foundation “Fundamental”.

"We know that these patients face significant barriers to accessing medical care, and our findings suggest that limited access to treatments may play a role in the increase in deaths recorded in these settings," said Livia de Becker of the Davel University Mental Hospital in Belgium.

The authors of this study point out that "our results show the importance of adopting targeted approaches to avoid the spread of the virus among this group of patients."

"Public health authorities should take targeted measures to ensure the broadest vaccine coverage for these people, and to address limited access to treatments," de Becker said.

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a disorder that affects a person's way of thinking, mood and behavior, and is caused by several factors such as heredity, genes, and life events that a person goes through, such as exposure to stress or verbal or physical aggression.

According to the World Health Organization, people with severe mental illness usually die earlier than healthy people, and this is called "premature mortality".

The life expectancy of people with severe mental illness is estimated to be 10 to 25 years lower than that of others.

According to the organization, severe mental illnesses include psychosis, moderate to severe depression, and bipolar mood disorders.

There are signs that a person may have a mental health problem;

Suffering from one or more of these symptoms may indicate a psychological problem.

Among these symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from people and away from usual activities.

  • Sleep disturbances, such as decreased number of hours and difficulty sleeping or sleeping for long periods.

  • Eating disorders, whether increased or decreased.

  • Feeling of indifference.

  • Feeling hopeless and helpless.

  • Experiencing severe mood swings.

  • The person is experiencing memories or thoughts that he cannot get out of his head.

  • Hear unreal voices.

  • Believing illogical convictions.

  • Suffering from body aches that have no medical explanation.

  • Thinking of harming oneself or others.

  • Low energy level.

  • Inability to do normal daily activities, such as going to work.

Mental illness includes a wide range of disorders, including:

  • Depression: It is a mental illness characterized by irritability for a long time, and it goes beyond mere sadness, and affects the patient's behavior and readiness for work and life, and may lead to serious consequences that may lead to suicide.

  • Anxiety disorders: in which the person feels anxious and tense unjustifiably or logically, and its symptoms include a constant feeling of fear and panic, difficulty sleeping, heart palpitations, and a feeling of tension in the muscles.

    It includes social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder.

  • Bipolar disorders: Also called "manic-depressive" disorders, a person goes through sharp fluctuations in mood, activity and behavior between depression characterized by low energy and withdrawal, to mania.

    In which the person is very active but abnormally, as his speech accelerates and suffers from fluctuating thoughts that attend him a lot, and he has difficulty sleeping or may not feel tired, and he may believe in irrational convictions about his abilities, and this may lead him to make hasty wrong decisions, such as Investing all his money in a project of doubtful feasibility.

  • Schizophrenia: It is a mental illness in which the affected person hears or sees things that do not exist, and has incorrect convictions, such as that others can read his thoughts, or that the jinn or demons possess or control him.

    Schizophrenia is a severe chronic disease that leads to disability in the affected person's life.

  • Eating disorders: They result from a psychological disorder that leads to an abnormal attitude towards food, which leads to a person changing his eating habits and behavior towards it, and includes:

    Anorexia nervosa, in which the person tries to keep his weight as low as possible, by starving or excessive in exercise.

    Bulimia, in which a person eats food and then tries to get rid of it by vomiting or taking laxatives.

    Binge eating, in which a person feels compelled to eat a large and excessive amount of food.