The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that people with mental health disorders are more likely to get severely ill from COVID.
“Having mood disorders, including depression, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19,” the CDC wrote.
POPSUGAR has recently spoken to two medical professionals about how mental health issues can increase your risk of COVID severity and Mortality.
Dr. Katlyn Nemani of NYU Langone Health’s Department of Psychiatry said, in her view, people with serious mental illness, especially those with schizophrenia, are at the most risk.
She told POPSUGAR, “The CDC is basing their guidance on the data that’s available; hopefully future research will help refine this list of conditions.”
Dr. Nemani went on to explain that mental health illness can affect one’s immune system, which could be one of the reasons people with severe mental illness are at risk of advanced cases of COVID-19.
Dr. Christine Crawford of the National Alliance on Mental Illness told The New York Times that chronic psychological issues can “wreak havoc on the body’s immune system,” making one more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Raquel Martin told POPSUGAR that mental health disorders affect everyone’s body differently, but they can be chronic stressors, which potentially causes a reduction of T-cells that help fight infection.
What’s more? During a stress response, the body releases catecholamines such as dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, among others. And having elevated catecholamines for long periods of time can lead to increased blood pressure, digestive issues, and headaches, which could further make one vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
Dr. Nemani also explained that she and her team observed an abnormal immune response to infection in people with schizophrenia.
“There are at least two immune-mediated mechanisms that contribute to COVID-19 mortality risk: an ineffective response to the virus shortly after exposure and a harmful inflammatory response later in the course of infection when the immune system develops an overexuberant response that can damage the body’s own tissues,” she said.
Dr. Nemani said getting vaccinated “is probably the single most effective thing people can do to protect themselves,” and that it should be a priority.
To know more about what these experts have to say about the association between mental illness and the risk of COVID-19 infection, read the article titled “Mental Health Disorders May Be Linked to Increased Risk of Severe COVID-19” published online on POPSUGAR.