Mental health outcomes in Portuguese SARS-CoV-2 survivors and the general population during the covid-19 pandemic

Inês A. Trindade, Helena Pinto, Lara Palmeira, Sérgio Carvalho, Marco Pereira

This study explored mental health outcomes in 640 Portuguese adults from three different groups (SARS-CoV-2 survivors, individuals who were tested but had negative results, and individuals who were never tested). Compared to pre-pandemic normative data, symptoms of anxiety and depression were higher, although no differences between groups were found. However, we found that having a previous psychiatric diagnosis may make people more vulnerable to anxiety and depression during the covid-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 infection survivors were concerned with negative infection-related judgements from others, and 42% presented clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychological flexibility was associated with better psychological outcomes.
Key points
  • 1
       Overall, about 40% of survivors were concerned with negative judgements from others due to having been infected.
  • 2
       Based on the recommended cut-off for individuals receiving specialised medical care, 42% of SARS-CoV-2 survivors presented a possible case of PTSD.
  • 3
       All groups presented high presence of anxiety and depression symptoms, with respect to normative levels before the pandemic.
  • 4
       Having a previous psychiatric diagnosis may put people at greater risk for anxiety and depression during the covid-19 pandemic.
  • 5
       Psychological flexibility was significantly associated with better psychological outcomes among SARS-CoV-2 survivors.
  • 6
       The most significant fear of individuals who had tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 was having severe complications due to a possible infection.

About 40% of SARS-CoV-2 survivors showed at least some feelings of insecurity due to having had the SARS-CoV-2 infection, the perception that others may evaluate them negatively for having been infected, and feelings of isolation due to having been infected.

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