CDC: Mental health disorders added to list of conditions linked to risk of severe COVID-19

The chance of getting a severe case of the COVD-19 virus increases if you have mental health issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Earlier this month the CDC added “mental health conditions” to a list of conditions that increase the chances that someone with mood disorders or who suffers from schizophrenia will be hospitalized, need a ventilator or die of the novel coronavirus.

The CDC did not give an explanation as to why mental health issues would lead to more severe cases of COVID-19, but two studies published this year showed that people suffering from severe mental illness are more at risk for a severe case of the virus.

The first study, published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found patients suffering from schizophrenia were at an increased risk of death from COVID-19 after adjusting for age, sex, race and any other medical risk factors.

The second study, published in July in JAMA, looked at 21 studies that included 91 million people around the world who were diagnosed with mood disorders. The studies found “significantly higher odds” of hospitalization and death from the COVID-19 virus.

Mental health care workers have been calling on the CDC to include mental health disorders in the list of conditions that would make a person more likely to suffer a more severe case of COVID-19.

Sixteen organizations signed a Sept. 22 letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky requesting an “immediate and urgent response” to their call for mental health disorders to be included in the list.

“Our organizations hope that the CDC will seize this opportunity to demonstrate that individuals with these conditions are not invisible and deserve the consideration afforded to those living with other conditions appropriately identified on the CDC’s list,” the letter said.

Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, the assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse in the Department of Health and Human Services, told The Washington Post that the inclusion of mental health issues on the list “underscores the link between mental and physical health.”

“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,” Delphin-Rittmon said in a statement.

Around 20 million people in the US suffer from mood disorders such as depression. More than 2.6 million adults in the US suffer from schizophrenia.

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