Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Patients with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders
Keywords:COVID-19, Pandemic, Psychosis, Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder, Tele-medicine
Objective: To evaluate the mental health of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders with the prolongation of the pandemic.
Materials and Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted between August-October 2020. Fifty-two patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders who were hospitalized prior to the onset of the pandemic between March 2019-March 2020 at the inpatient clinic were reassessed during the pandemic. The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), the Clinical Global Impression-Severity (CGI-S) Scale, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) and Fear of COVID-19 Scale were used to evaluate psychopathology during the pandemic. The PANSS and the CGI severity scores at discharge from the inpatient clinic for each patient were obtained from the medical records review for comparison along with sociodemographic variables.
Results: A total of 34 patients, 33 with schizophrenia (97.1%) and 1 with schizoaffective disorder (2.9%) were included. There was no significant difference between the pre- and during the pandemic assessments in the PANSS total and the CGI severity scores. The PANSS total, the CGI, HAM-D, HAM-A and the Fear of COVID-19 scale scores, medical comorbidity and utilization of psychiatric health care services were significantly higher in patients who reported subjectively increased psychiatric symptoms during the pandemic. There was no significant difference in the change of PANSS total and CGI scores between the two groups. Fear of COVID-19 Scale and HAM-A scores were correlated positively.
Conclusion: During pandemic increase in psychiatric symptoms may be related not only to psychosis but also depression, anxiety. According to the results of patients who reported subjectively increased psychiatric symptoms during the pandemic, while the psychotic symptoms did not worsen during the pandemic, patients with higher anxiety or depression scores reported an increase in their symptoms and were more likely to seek help.
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