oa Wits Journal of Clinical Medicine - Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and psychiatric sequelae in South Africa : anxiety and beyond - review article

Volume 2 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2618-0189
  • E-ISSN: 2618-0197



Background: The 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the health sector nationwide and internationally. Across all disciplines, unique and novel modes of presentation with substantial morbidity and mortality are being encountered, and growing evidence suggests that psychiatric comorbidity is likely among COVID-19 patients.

Objective: This article aims to broaden the current discussion on the psychiatric sequalae of COVID-19, which has largely focused on anxiety, and examine the recently documented psychiatric sequelae of COVID-19 infection, the secondary effects of the pandemic on public mental health, and future psychiatric conditions that may arise due to COVID-19.

Methods: We conducted an in-depth review of the current global psychiatric literature and describe the wide range of psychopathological presentations reported among past COVID-19 patients worldwide and those that are expected to emerge.

Results: Current discussions in the psychiatric literature on COVID-19 report anxiety and anxiety disorders as a predominant set of clinical presentations during the pandemic. The impacts of direct COVID-19 infection, associated psychopathological sequelae, and drastic lifestyle changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, are associated with a broad range of psychopathologies and other neuropsychiatric presentations. Pre-existing societal conditions and burdens on the health system in South Africa prompt healthcare providers and public health planners to accordingly prepare for the expected rise in new psychiatric presentations.

Conclusion: Greater awareness of the various psychiatric conditions attributed to COVID-19 infection may allow for earlier screening, more effective treatment, and greater positive health outcomes and better prepare health systems to address the growing pandemic in South Africa.

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