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COVID Kills: The Risk of being Schizophrenic during a Pandemic

Schizophrenia is such a complex mental illness. Those who suffer from Schizophrenia already endure side effects from medication, an increased risk of homelessness & substance abuse and an increased risk of heart disease along with managing the symptoms of the illness itself. Now, in the throes of a global pandemic, Schizophrenics are again at risk.

Schizophrenia has been listed as the #2 risk factor in the COVID-19 Pandemic; 2nd only to age. While it would be natural to assume that this means people with other Mental Health problems, such as mood and anxiety disorders, are also at an increased risk for COVID-19, this is not true. What is also baffling is that it does not seem as though a Schizophrenic’s increased risk of dying of COVID-19 has anything to do with “other factors that often accompany serious mental health disorders, such as higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and smoking… The results of the study suggest that there may be something about the biology of schizophrenia itself that is making those who have it more vulnerable to COVID-19 and other viral infections. One likely explanation is an immune system disturbance, possibly tied to the genetics of the disorder, says Dr. Nemani.”,illness%2C%20a%20new%20study%20shows.

The genetics of Schizophrenia are obviously still unknown but obviously there is a link between the viral COVID-19 illness and Schizophrenia/Mental Health. There is yet another phenomena in the COVID-19 pandemic that would lead us to the same conclusion as well; “A small but increasing number of cases in which COVID-19 patients with no previous history of mental health issues develop severe psychosis weeks or months after recovering from the virus, Pam Belluck writes for the New York Times.”

While “post-Covid psychosis” is not affecting a large part of the recovered COVID-19 population, it has been enough of a number for the scientific community to take note. These patients often experience auditory hallucinations and paranoia in the months after recovering from the COVID-19 Virus. The speculation is that the body's immune response may be the cause, including vascular and inflammatory issues caused by the presence of the illness itself. “Some of the neurotoxins that are reactions to immune activation can go to the brain, through the blood-brain barrier, and can induce this damage.”

What is even more notable is that this is not a trend specific to the Covid-19 Virus, but rather the uptick in new cases of mental illness have been prevalent during other pandemics such as the 1918 flu and the SARS & MERS coronaviruses. So the question becomes Are Mental Illnesses a by-product of our Immune System’s response to certain stimuli? The brain’s role on immune response and the brain’s reactions to immune response are still being studied. One recent study seems to show that our brain is able to catalog and recall immune responses and can be stimulated to repeat specific immune responses.

What we do know is that those with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia are 3 times more likely to die if they catch COVID-19 and a small percentage of the population that has never experienced mental illness before will experience “post-Covid psychosis.”

The Schizophrenic community already faced shorter life-spans in the pre-pandemic world. Research shows that this vulnerable community is at 2.7x higher risk for serious illness or death from contracting COVID-19, though the WHY is unclear.

Support for individuals with Schizophrenia is needed now. Like our page, spread the word. This illness affects people around the globe, and we want to find a cure for them.

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