Covid survivors 'traumatised and suffer flashbacks' after hospital ventilation



Covid patients are suffering from the crippling aftermath of their ordeal, including flashbacks and mental health problems, particularly if put on a ventilator, according to new research.  Those admitted to hospital can suffer extensive symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, researchers have claimed.  These can include intrusive thoughts or imagery, waves of strong feelings, being easily startled, trying to “erase” memories and avoiding talking about what happened.   The research, published in the journal BJPsych Open from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, was based on 13,049 survivors in the UK who had had suspected or confirmed coronavirus.  The study found that 35 per cent of those put on a ventilator experienced extensive PTSD symptoms alongside 18 per cent of patients who were admitted to hospital without requiring a ventilator.  Extensive symptoms of PTSD were also found among patients given medical help at home and patients who required no help at home but experienced breathing problems.  Overall, 41 per cent of all Covid patients experienced at least one symptom to an extremely high degree, with the most common being intrusive images or “flashbacks”, such as of being on the intensive care ward.  Dr Adam Hampshire, from Imperial College London, who worked on the study, said the after-effects of the pandemic would be long-lasting.  He said: “We can see that the pandemic is likely to be having an acute and lasting impact, including for a significant proportion of patients who remained at home with respiratory problems and received no medical help.  “This evidence could be important for informing future therapy and reducing the long-term health burden of this disease.”  Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “It is clear that Covid-19 can have serious mental health consequences.  “This virus isn’t just a threat to our physical health, it also poses significant risks to mental health during and following the illness.  “Over 400,000 patients have been hospitalised from Covid in the UK and sadly there will be more to come.  “Many of those fortunate enough to survive their ordeal will experience a significant impact on their mental health.  “Effective and joined-up follow-up care must be provided after discharge and mental health services must be adequately expanded to treat increasing numbers of people with PTSD symptoms.”

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