Research suggests COVID patients at increased risk of mental disorders

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — A recently published study from Oxford found that roughly 20 percent of patients who recover from COVID-19 later develop mental disorders. Upstate mental health experts say the research is consistent with what they have seen; however, those same experts say mental health problems are affecting an increasing number of people, regardless of whether they have had coronavirus.

Spartanburg Area Mental Health Center Director Roger Williams said individuals who had COVID-19 were about twice as likely to develop a mental disorder as individuals who had experienced other health problems.

“For the general public, about 10 percent of individuals over any particular period of time will experience some type of mental illness,” he said. “They’re seeing about 20 percent of individuals who had COVID are experiencing mental illness.”

He said those illnesses usually are depression, anxiety and insomnia. However, some patients have ongoing cognitive issues.

“They feel like they’re walking through a fog for quite some time after they’ve had COVID itself,” he said.

Across the board, though, the number of people developing mental disorders seems to be on the rise, regardless of whether they had coronavirus. In recent weeks, Williams said, the center has seen an unusually high number of new patients seeking help.

Williams is far from the only expert to see the trend.

Jacklyn Murphy, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said that she’s noticed the increase in new patients, too.

“I would say we’re about 50 percent above what we would normally be at,” she said. New patients, she said, are seeking help for depression, anxiety, relationship problems and more.

“Not only have we had people who have been affected personally and in their families with COVID but we’ve also seen people in general dealing with a pandemic, work circumstances, children’s school circumstances, and life being very uncertain,” Murphy said.

Murphy said she also knows of some private practices that have months-long waits right now for appointments. As the number of mental health disorders rises, she said, there may not be enough appointment availability among counselors to meet the demand.

Despite the possible wait, she said, therapists and other mental health experts will work with individuals and families to get patients the help they need.

Below are some resources available for those who need help.

Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433 

Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863 
Crisis Text Line (U.S. only): Text HELLO to 741741 

Spartanburg Area Mental Health: 
Main Phone: 864-585-0366

Greer Area Mental Health: Main Phone 864-879-2111

Greenville Area Mental Health: 864-241-1040

Spartanburg Support Groups: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/sc/spartanburg http://www.handsonhealth-sc.org/golocal/golocal.php?t=1&nid=L130&mcity=3

NAMI Support Groups (Serves Greenville, Spartanburg, and Veterans): https://www.namigreenvillesc.org/support-programs/support-groups/

Depression & Grief Online Support Group: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/depression/sc/spartanburg/173254?sid=5fb2e46595f2b&zipdist=30&ref=1&tr=ResultsName
South Carolina now has its own code for the Crisis Text Line (741741) – Hope4SC

SCDMH and SC Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services also have a 24/7/365 support line –  SC-HOPES: (844) SC-HOPES

SC-HOPES has a dedicated Spanish-language line – Tu Apoyo: (833) TU-APOYO

SCDMH also has a line for folks experiencing a mental health crisis, which can provide on-site response, as needed. It is available statewide, 24/7/365- SC Mobile Crisis: (833) 364-2274

Finally, SCDMH and DAODAS anonymous mental health screener – HopeConnectsYou: https://hope.connectsyou.org/

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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