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Homechevron_rightLifestylechevron_rightHealthchevron_rightIncrease in suicide...

Increase in suicide cases: A hidden crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic

Increase in suicide cases: A hidden crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic

Chicago/London: Even after two years after recovery, at least half of Covid survivors show at least one symptom. Covid-19 survivors had remarkably lower health and mental status than the general population at two years. According to World Health Organization, long COVID is a complex medical condition that can be hard to diagnose as it has a range of more than 200 symptoms - some of which can resemble other illnesses - from exhaustion and cognitive impairment to pain, fever, and heart palpitations.

Now several scientists from organizations including the US National Institutes of Health and Britain's data-collection agency are beginning to study a potential link following evidence of increased cases of depression and suicidal thoughts among people with long Coivd, as well as a growing number of known deaths.

Although much of the world may be moving past the pandemic, for millions of people with long COVID, the suffering remains. Their condition – with symptoms ranging from extreme fatigue and brain fog to shortness of breath, headaches, and pain - is often discounted by doctors, and has no proven treatment.

Among key questions now being examined by researchers is whether the risk of suicide potentially increases among patients because the virus is changing the brain. Or does the loss of their ability to function as they once did push people to the brink, as can happen with other long-term health conditions?

An analysis for Reuters conducted by Seattle-based health data firm Truveta showed that patients with long Covid were nearly twice as likely to receive a first-time antidepressant prescription within 90 days of their initial Covid diagnosis compared with people diagnosed with Covid alone.

The analysis was based on data from 20 major US hospital systems, including more than 1.3 million adults with a Covid diagnosis and 19,000 with a long Covid diagnosis between May 2020 and July 2022.

The potential long-term effects of COVID-19 are poorly understood, with governments and scientists only now starting to systematically study the area as they emerge from a pandemic that itself blindsided much of the world.

While many long Covid patients recover over time, around 15 percent still experience symptoms after 12 months, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). There's no proven treatment and debilitating symptoms can leave sufferers unable to work.

The implications of long Covid potentially being linked with increased risk of mental illness and suicide are grave; in America alone, the condition has affected up to 23 million people, the US Government Accountability Office estimated in March.

Long Covid has also pushed roughly 4.5 million out of work, equal to about 2.4 percent of the US workforce, employment expert Katie Bach of the Brookings Institution told Congress in July.

Worldwide, nearly 150 million people are estimated to have developed long Covid during the first two years of the pandemic, according to the IHME.

Long Covid on average reduces overall health by 21 per cent - similar to total deafness or a traumatic brain injury, the University of Washington's IHME found.

Although some experts expected Omicron to be less likely to cause long Covid, official UK data released this month found that 34 percent of the 2 million long Covid sufferers in the country developed their symptoms after an Omicron infection.

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TAGS:Covid19 pandemic
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