Those who have been seriously ill in the hospital with coronavirus need to be tested urgently for post-traumatic stress disorder, say, top doctors.
The COVID 19 Trauma Response Working Group, led by University College London and involving experts from the south-east of England, said those in intensive care were most at risk.
Experts said that regular checks should last at least a year.
More than 100,000 people have been treated in hospital for the virus.
Experts say tens of thousands of them have been seriously ill enough to be at risk for PTSD.
The working group highlighted research that showed that 30% of patients who had suffered serious illnesses in infectious disease outbreaks in the past continued to develop PTSD, while depression and anxiety were also common.
“It was like being in hell”
Tracy is just one of many people left with psychological scars from her coronavirus experience.
She was admitted to Whittington Hospital in north London in March and spent more than three weeks there – one of them in intensive care.
“It was like being in hell. I saw people dying, people with life being sucked from them. The staff has all the masks and all you saw was eyes – it was so lonely and scary.”
Since being discharged in April, the 59-year-old has struggled to sleep because of the thought that she will die and that she has constantly suffered flashbacks.
He is now receiving counseling.
“It was really difficult. Physically I was so tired. I’m starting to recover, but the mental part is very difficult to tackle.”
“I have a good network of support from family and friends and I’m a positive person – and I fight. I think there will be a lot of people who are in a similar situation, if not even worse.”
Where do coronavirus cases rise and fall?
How long will my recovery take?
“Variable” support available
UCL psychiatrist Dr Michael Bloomfield, who is in the COVID 19 working group, said those patients who arrived at the hospital would have experienced a “very frightening and invasive” experience and coupled with long-term complications, they would be at risk of stress. mental health difficulties.
He said the unique nature of the pandemic, which meant patients were isolated from their families while in the hospital, could also make matters worse.
“We need to make sure we support these patients. The services in place are very variable. Failure to do so could have long-term consequences.”
An NHS England spokesman said it was clear the pandemic had “turned lives upside down”.