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Obsessive-compulsive symptoms and information seeking during the Covid-19 pandemic

Loosen, AM; Skvortsova, V; Hauser, TU; (2021) Obsessive-compulsive symptoms and information seeking during the Covid-19 pandemic. Transl Psychiatry , 11 (1) , Article 309. 10.1038/s41398-021-01410-x. Green open access

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Abstract

Increased mental-health symptoms as a reaction to stressful life events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, are common. Critically, successful adaptation helps to reduce such symptoms to baseline, preventing long-term psychiatric disorders. It is thus important to understand whether and which psychiatric symptoms show transient elevations, and which persist long-term and become chronically heightened. At particular risk for the latter trajectory are symptom dimensions directly affected by the pandemic, such as obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms. In this longitudinal large-scale study (N = 406), we assessed how OC, anxiety and depression symptoms changed throughout the first pandemic wave in a sample of the general UK public. We further examined how these symptoms affected pandemic-related information seeking and adherence to governmental guidelines. We show that scores in all psychiatric domains were initially elevated, but showed distinct longitudinal change patterns. Depression scores decreased, and anxiety plateaued during the first pandemic wave, while OC symptoms further increased, even after the ease of Covid-19 restrictions. These OC symptoms were directly linked to Covid-related information seeking, which gave rise to higher adherence to government guidelines. This increase of OC symptoms in this non-clinical sample shows that the domain is disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We discuss the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on public mental health, which calls for continued close observation of symptom development.

Type: Article
Title: Obsessive-compulsive symptoms and information seeking during the Covid-19 pandemic
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41398-021-01410-x
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01410-x
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10128683
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