Almost half of Bangladeshi adults who tested positive for the novel coronavirus have reported symptoms of depression, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Researchers from Bangladesh, the United States and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the United Kingdom carried out the cross-sectional survey.
The findings are based on around 1,000 adult novel coronavirus patients, aged 18 to 81, who were observed for a month in September and October last year.
In total, 48% were categorised as having moderate to severe depression, the international team found. People most at risk included those with persistent symptoms, low family income and poor overall health.
However, the study did not mention whether the people developed depression as a result of the viral infection.
Prof Shahina Pardhan of Anglia Ruskin University, and co-author of the research, told the press that their study found a high number of respondents suffering depression alongside their Covid-19 symptoms, particularly those who were more vulnerable.
One in five of the participants reported ongoing problems, the most common of which were diarrhoea and fatigue.
Roughly a quarter of patients had attempted to self-medicate with over-the-counter drugs, rather than contact health services.
Prof Pardhan said, "We know the World Health Organisation has reported mental health services across the world have been disrupted by the pandemic. This study shows the pressing need for these services among those testing positive for the virus."
Treat Covid-19 patients with more care: Psychiatrists
Mental health experts have said diseases can affect the human body differently.
"People can develop psychiatric issues after contracting the virus," said Dr Mekhala Sarkar, associate professor (Psychiatry) at the National Institute of Mental Health.
"We have to be more caring toward Covid-19 patients. Apart from this, if someone suffers from a depressive disorder for a long time, the individual should see a psychiatrist immediately," she told The Business Standard.
Bangladesh has crossed 11th months since the Covid-19 outbreak – with 541,434 confirmed cases and 8,298 deaths so far. Till date, 488,621 people have recovered from coronavirus.
Dr Mekhala Sarkar said people with psychological vulnerability are more susceptive to post-Covid-19 mental issues.
"We need to assess the Covid-19 patient for whether his or her mental issue is common depression or a depressive disorder. Depressive disorders usually go away shortly after the virus recovery. But if the depression continues for more than two weeks, we call it a depressive disorder, which requires structural treatment," she explained.
Dr Mekhala Sarkar recommended a light workout and breathing exercises be maintained during the virus infection.
Earlier, research conducted by the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) mental health department showed that many medical personnel have been suffering from fatigue after fighting Covid-19, as well as anxiety, sleep disorders and depression.
Among the surveyed medical workers, 18% of the doctors and 6.8% of the allied healthcare professionals reported depression.