CDC: Mood Disorders Increase Risk for Severe COVID-19

Damian McNamara

October 28, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The CDC says people with certain mental health conditions could have a higher risk of more severe COVID-19, which could lead to a need for hospitalization, ICU admission, or death.

The agency added mental health disorders to its web page listing conditions that could place people at increased risk for more severe COVID-19.

As the latest addition to the agency's COVID-19 People with Certain Medical Conditions list, mood disorders join 18 other conditions or behaviors that increase risk. The list ranges from cancer to tuberculosis, and includes people who smoke, are overweight or obese, pregnant, or immunocompromised.

The CDC says that anyone at higher risk for severe COVID-19 should work with their health care providers to carefully manage their condition. In addition, it says to get "vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as you can, including taking boosters if and when they are recommended for you."

Leaders from the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and 14 other mental health organizations applauded the CDC's actions. A joint statement cites evidence that schizophrenia in particular is only second to age as a risk factor for severe COVID-19.

"By recognizing that severe mental illness is an underlying medical condition connected to a higher risk for COVID-19, the CDC will save lives," American Psychiatric Association CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, MD, said in a news release.

Two studies published this year support the link between mood disorders and high risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes. In a January study in JAMA Psychiatry, patients with schizophrenia were more likely to die from COVID-19 in research that adjusted for other things that could play a role, including other medical conditions, age, race, and sex.

In another study, in July, also published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers compiled evidence from 21 studies for people with mood disorders. This review and analysis also supports higher odds of hospitalization and death in people infected with the coronavirus during the pandemic.

Sources

CDC, COVID-19: "People with Certain Medical Conditions."

News release, American Psychiatric Association, Oct. 20, 2021.

JAMA Psychiatry: "Association of Psychiatric Disorders With Mortality Among Patients With COVID-19," "Association Between Mood Disorders and Risk of COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalization, and Death."

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