Journal Articles

Publication Date



PLoS One


IMPORTANCE: The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly impacted mental health outcomes. While the frequency of anxiety and depressive symptoms has increased in the whole population, the relationship between COVID-19 and new psychiatric diagnoses remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: to compare the population incidence rate of emergence of de novo psychiatric disorders in 2020 compared to the previous years, and to compare the incidence rate of new psychiatric disorder diagnoses between people with vs without COVID-19.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This study utilized administrative claims data from the Clinformatics® Data Mart database, licensed from Optum®. The study is a cross-sectional analysis that compared the incidence rate of new psychiatric disorders in 2020 vs. 2018 and 2019 in the entire insured population database. Subsequently, the incidence of new psychiatric disorders in people with vs. without COVID-19 during 2020 was analyzed.

EXPOSURE: The exposures included diagnosis and severity of COVID-19 infection.

MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: The dependent variables of interest were the incidence rates of new psychiatric disorders, specifically schizophrenia spectrum disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

RESULTS: The population studied included 10,463,672 US adults (mean age 52.83, 52% female) who were unique people for the year of 2020. Incidence of newly diagnosed psychiatric disorders per 1,000 individuals in the 2020 whole population were 28.81 (CI: 28.71, 28.92) for anxiety disorders, 1.04 (CI: 1.02, 1.06) for schizophrenia disorders, 0.42 (CI: 0.41, 0.43) for OCD and 28.85 (CI: 28.75, 28.95) for mood disorders. These rates were not significantly higher than 2018 or 2019. When comparing incidence rates between COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 populations in 2020, the rates were significantly higher in the COVID-19 population: 46.89 (CI: 46.24, 47.53) for anxiety, 49.31 (CI: 48.66, 49.97) for mood disorders, 0.57 (CI: 0.50, 0.65) for OCD, and 3.52 (CI: 3.34, 3.70) for schizophrenia. COVID-19 severity was significantly associated with new diagnoses of schizophrenia, anxiety and mood disorders in multivariate analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared to 2018 and 2019, in 2020 there was no increased incidence of new psychiatric disorders in the general population based on insurance claims data. Importantly, people with COVID-19 were more likely to be diagnosed with a new psychiatric disorder, most notably disorders with psychosis, indicating a potential association between COVID-19 and mental/brain health.


Adult, COVID-19, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, SARS-CoV-2



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