Anxiety and depression are common after severe Covid-19 infection, with patients requiring ‘coordinated rehabilitation’ after discharge, a UK study has found.

The study, published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research this month, looked at 93 patients with Covid-19 admitted to critical care units in Scotland between March and May 2020.

The University of Glasgow scientists found emotional dysfunction was ‘common’, with 46.2% of patients displaying symptoms of anxiety and 34.4% symptoms of depression, after following them up between three and seven months after discharge.

But only 12.9% had pre-existing of historical mental health issues at the time of admission. Of those 81 patients, with no history of mental health issues, 35 (43.2%) developed symptoms of anxiety and 24 (29.6%) developed symptoms of depression.

At follow-up, 49 (52.7%) also described problems with mobility, 27 (29%) had problems with self-care activities and 68 (73.1%) struggled to carry out usual activities. In addition, 69.9% described new pain since discharge from hospital.

However, the scientists found similar outcomes among 206 patients without Covid-19 who were admitted to critical care units between May 2016 and October 2018.

The researchers said: ‘This multicentre study has revealed that survivors of severe Covid-19 infection experience longer-term physical, emotional and social problems.

‘In this study, those patients who have been critically unwell due to Covid-19 appear to have similar outcomes to other ICU survivor cohorts.’

The scientists said the findings show that patients who were admitted to critical care units require coordinated rehabilitation in order for them to make an ‘optimal recovery’.

A version of this story first appeared on The Pharmacists' sister publication, Nursing in Practice.