Worsening of Preexisting Psychiatric Conditions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Front Psychiatry. 2020 Dec 16;11:581426. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.581426. eCollection 2020.


Objectives: To ascertain factors associated with worsening of psychiatric conditions during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Methods: This study anonymously examined 2,734 psychiatric patients worldwide for worsening of their preexisting psychiatric conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. An independent clinical investigation of 318 psychiatric patients from United States was used for verification. Results: Valid responses mainly from 12 featured countries indicated self-reported worsening of psychiatric conditions in two-thirds of the patients assessed that was through their significantly higher scores on scales for general psychological disturbance, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression. Female gender, feeling no control of the situation, reporting dissatisfaction with the response of the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, and reduced interaction with family and friends increased the worsening of preexisting psychiatric conditions, whereas optimism, ability to share concerns with family and friends, and using social media like usual were associated with less worsening. An independent clinical investigation from the United States confirmed worsening of psychiatric conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic based on identification of new symptoms that necessitated clinical interventions such as dose adjustment or starting new medications in more than half of the patients. Conclusions: More than half of the patients are experiencing worsening of their psychiatric conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; depression; general psychological disturbance; post traumatic stress disorder; psychiatric patients; worsening.