The impact of the coronavirus on mental health (part 1 of 2)

By Helen
Marketing Manager
Smart TMS
18th May 2020


During mental health awareness week, our Medical Director Dr Leigh Neal, reflects on some of the possible consequences of the coronavirus on the nation’s mental health.

We have some evidence from the former SARS and MERS pandemics that after recovery from the physical symptoms there are delayed psychiatric consequences with rates of anxiety disorders of 15%, depression of 15% and PTSD of just over 30%.

In fact, among any patients who are admitted to an intensive care unit, there are high rates of anxiety, depression, PTSD. This is a consequence of the fear of death, delirium from the infection and medication and being subjected to uncomfortable medical procedures such as intubation. This will almost certainly occur in patients who have been subjected to more severe Covid19 symptoms. In addition, we are already hearing about prolonged post-viral fatigue in those whose bodies have been more widely damaged by the infection.

Treatment for anxiety, depression and PTSD will traditionally be focussed on psychological therapies with CBT and medication with antidepressants. However, CBT is time consuming and expensive and people are increasingly turning away from medication. This may be the time to look at the new science of transcranial magnetic stimulation which a recent editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggested it should now be considered as first line treatment in depression due to its effectiveness and extremely low side effects.  We should also be considering its use in PTSD where there also emerging evidence for its safety and beneficial outcomes.

But what about those who do not contract the disease? It seems intuitive that the covid19 pandemic will lead to an increase in psychological problems in society. However, we know that counter-intuitive outcomes can occur. For example, a study comparing matched regiments of soldiers, one serving in a combat theatre overseas with another regiment staying in the UK, surprisingly found that the soldiers returning from the combat theatre had a much more positive mood state than those that remained in the UK. In fact, it is likely that after Covid19 different groups of people will fare differently and therefore the need for different types of treatment and the availability of treatment will be key to the nation recovering.


In part 2, available later in the week, Dr Neal looks at the effects of the virus on different groups in more detail.

If you are currently struggling with your mental health, call our helpline to book up to five free sessions with one of our practitioners for tips and advice to support your mental health. Find out more or call 020 3855 4578 to book your session.


Coronavirus Opening Arrangements

Smart TMS clinics are currently closed due to the ongoing pandemic situation. However, we welcome enquiries from patients who want to learn more about treatment. We can explain all the options and may be able to arrange pre-screening as appropriate in order to fast track clients to start treatment as soon as possible when we can see you in person.

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