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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Study Shows Link Between Mood Disorders and COVID-19 Hospitalization and Death

By Jill Drachenberg, Editor, Relias Media

Individuals with mental health and mood disorders — such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia spectrum disorder — are at greater risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death, according to the authors of a recent study.

The study authors conducted a meta-analysis of 21 studies that included 91 million people. Those with pre-existing mood disorders were at significantly higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 than those without mood disorders. The authors did not find significant links involving COVID-19 susceptibility or severe events.

People with mood disorders also are affected by conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and are susceptible to substance use. Social determinants of health also are factors for this population.

“Social determinants, including economic insecurity, insufficient access to primary preventive health care, and lower health literacy, may portend COVID-19 risk,” the study authors explained. “For example, many individuals with mood disorders reside in congregate facilities, such as psychiatric inpatient units, homeless shelters, community housing, and prisons, where risk of COVID-19 transmission is increased because of the inability to effectively socially distance and/or quarantine. Moreover, symptoms of mood disorders, including disinhibition, apathy, avolition, and cognitive deficits, may presage nonconcordance with healthy behaviors and possibly public health directives.” Tobacco use and substance use disorders also are “significantly more prevalent” in this population, they noted.

“These results suggest that individuals with mood disorders, like persons with other pre-existing conditions (e.g., obesity), should be categorized as an at-risk group on the basis of a pre-existing condition,” the authors concluded.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged this link and added mental health and mood disorders to its list of high-risk conditions, opening COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to millions more people. The CDC also urges them to take other preventive measures, such as hand hygiene, wearing masks, and social distancing.

“CDC’s recent inclusion of certain mental health conditions that can contribute to the severity of a covid-19 infection reinforces the plight faced by Americans with behavioral health issues, including substance use disorders,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, the assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse in the Department of Health and Human Services.