RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- People with depression or mental health disorders are at high risk for a severe case of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That new classification also means anyone with those conditions are also eligible to get a booster shot of the vaccine.
"It does seem that we are willing to look at mental illness and talk about mental illness in a different light," Dr. Nerissa Price said.
Price is a psychiatrist with WakeMed in Raleigh. She said the links between mental health and physical health have become more apparent since the pandemic began.
"Having a mental health condition and having that constant level of stress and stress levels in our body, can really weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to other conditions," Price said.
Underlying conditions like kidney disease and heart failure as well as diabetes can be further complicated if that person becomes infected with coronavirus.
In addition, Price said people with mental health conditions may have a longer road to recovery.
"We have already seen that people who have had the virus have certain neuropsychiatric complications...brain fog and anxiety and depression problems because they don't have a normal return to functioning," Price said.
This is why the CDC agreed to include people with mental health conditions in the group of people encouraged to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"To see others and to connect with others to give themselves joy, so the booster isn't just a way to end this pandemic but a way to improve people's mental wellness," Price said.
Studies show one in five people have a mental health conditions. When you add those people to other groups, 85 percent of people across the country are now eligible for a booster shot, if they want one.