Rozental A, Sörman K, Ojala O, Jangard S, El Alaoui S, Månsson KNT, Shahnavaz S, Lundin J, Forsström D, Hedman-Lagerlöf M, Lundgren T, Jayaram-Lindström N
Front Psychiatry 13 (-) 933858 [2022-07-19; online 2022-07-19]
Individuals with psychiatric disorders may be both vulnerable and sensitive to rapid societal changes that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. To fully understand these impacts, repeated measurements of these individuals are warranted. The current longitudinal study set out to perform monthly assessment of individuals with common psychiatric disorders using established questionnaires with a possibility for them to self- rate their symptoms, over time. Recruitment of individuals who identified themselves as struggling with mental health problems, living in Sweden between July 2020 and June 2021 using an online survey. The individuals answered questions on demographics, psychiatric history, current psychiatric symptoms (e.g., Patient Health Questionnaire, PHQ-9; General Anxiety Disorder, GAD-7), somatic health, health-care contacts and any changes therein during the pandemic. Monthly, longitudinal assessments are still ongoing (consenting participants provide data for 1 year), and here we present descriptive statistics from the baseline measurement. All measurements from baseline (>400 items), and follow-ups are presented in detail. A total of 6.095 participants (average age 35 years) submitted complete baseline data. Marital status (43% single) and number of years of education (48% highest degree being high school) were evenly distributed in this population. The most common lifetime psychiatric disorder in the sample was depressive disorder (80.5%) and generalized anxiety disorder (45.9%), with a substantial proportion having severe symptoms of depression. (30.5%) and anxiety (37.1%). Lifetime suicidal ideation (75.0%) and non-suicidal self-harm (57.7%) were prevalent in the group and 14.5% reported drug use during the pandemic. Allergies (36.8%) were the most common somatic condition, followed by irritable bowel syndrome (18.7%). For those having experienced a traumatic event, 39% showed symptoms during the pandemic indicating PTSD. Regarding contact with mental health services during the pandemic, 22% had established a new contact, and 20% reported to have increased their psychiatric medication compared to before the pandemic. Baseline data collected during the pandemic from individuals in Sweden with pre-existing psychiatric disorders demonstrate that this sample represents a population suitable for an investigation on the long-term impact of the pandemic, as intended by the longitudinal investigation that is ongoing. Follow-up questionnaires over a 12-month period are being collected and will indicate how the health and well-being of this population was impacted during the changes and uncertainties that have been characteristic of the past 2 years.