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Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21251726


Studies reported a strong impact on mental health during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in March-June, 2020. In this study, we assessed the impact of the pandemic on mental health in general and on schizoptypal traits in two independent general population samples of the UK (May sample N: 239, October sample N: 126; participation at both timepoints: 21) and in two independent general population samples of Germany (May sample N: 543, October sample N: 401; participation at both timepoints: 100) using online surveys. Whereas general psychological symptoms (global symptom index, GSI) and percentage of responders above clinical cut-off for further psychological investigation were higher in the May sample compared to the October sample, schizotypy scores (Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire) were higher in the October sample. We investigated potential associations, using general linear regression models (GLM). For schizotypy scores, we found that loneliness, use of drugs, and financial burden were more strongly corrected with schizotypy in the October compared to the May sample. We identified similar associations for GSI, as for schizotypy scores, in the May and October samples. We furthermore found that living in the UK was related to higher schizotypal scores or GSI. However, individual estimates of the GLM are highly comparable between the two countries. In conclusion, this study shows that while the general psychological impact is lower in the October than the May sample, potentially showing a normative response to an exceptional situation; schizotypy scores are higher at the second timepoint, which may be due to a stronger impact of estimates of loneliness, drug use, and financial burden. The ongoing, exceptional circumstances within this pandemic might increase the risk for developing psychosis in some individuals. The development of general psychological symptoms and schizotypy scores over time requires further attention and investigation.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20182980


BackgroundThe COVID-19 pandemic has led to dramatic social and economic changes in daily life. First studies report an impact on mental health of the general population showing increased levels of anxiety, stress and depression. In this study, we compared the impact of the pandemic on two culturally and economically similar European countries: the UK and Germany. MethodsParticipants (UK=241, German=541) completed an online-survey assessing COVID-19 exposure, impact on financial situation and work, substance and media consumption, mental health using the tSymptom-Check-List-27 (SCL-27) and the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire. ResultsWe found distinct differences between the two countries. UK responders reported a stronger direct impact on health, financial situation and families. UK responders had higher clinical scores on the SCL-27, and higher prevalence. Interestingly, German responders were less hopeful for an end of the pandemic and more concerned about their life-stability. ConclusionAs 25% of both German and UK responders reported a subjective worsening of the general psychological symptoms and 20-50% of German and UK responders reached the clinical cut-off for depressive and dysthymic symptoms as well as anxieties, it specifically shows the need for tailored intervention systems to support large proportions of the general public.