Strict COVID-19 Home Confinement Likely Did Not Exacerbate Anxiety or Depression in Patients With Severe Mental Illness

Young depressed man sitting on floor.
This observational study was conducted by telephone interviews between April and July 2020.

Strict confinement due to COVID-19 regulations did not affect anxiety or depression scores among individuals with a personality disorder, according to results of a study published in the Revista de Psiquiatría y Salud Mental (Journal of Psychiatry and Mental Health).

This observational study was conducted by telephone interviews between April and July 2020. Patients (N=95) who had been admitted to the Psychiatry Unit of the Basurto University Hospital in Bilbao, Spain in the 2 years before COVID-19 were contacted and surveyed twice about their mental health during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Starting on March 15, 2020, Spain implemented a 99-day home confinement period.

The study participants were aged mean 48.30±1.47 years, 50.53% were women, 45.26% had schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, 25.26% had depressive disorders, 10.53% had bipolar disorder, 5.26% had personality disorders, 3.16% had anxiety and stress-related disorders, and 1.05% had other diagnoses.

The majority of participants lived with their family (68.89%) but few (13.68%) were responsible for a dependent person. Most individuals (92.63%) respected home confinement rules.

At the first survey, mean State-Trait Depression Inventory (IDER) trait scores were 23.57 and state scores were 24.56, which correlated with 68.52 and 76.41 percentiles of the general Spanish population, respectively. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) scores were 27.86 for state and 30.49 for trait components which corresponded with 71.52 and 69.45 percentiles, respectively.

IDER (P =.038) and STAI (P =.016) scores differed significantly between the first and second interviews on the basis of discharge diagnosis. The highest symptom scores were reported by patients with personality disorders and the lowest by patients with substance-related disorders.

No significant differences were observed on the basis of age, pharmacological treatment, or factors related with COVID-19 confinement.

The major limitation of this study was the small sample size.

The study authors concluded, “The pandemic has been leading to a worsening in the mental health situation of individuals with serious mental illness. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were more ubiquitous in contrast with general population. […] Nevertheless, no differences were found between the 2 assessments, so it can be concluded that the strict confinement did not affect this population, despite the literature that evidences that the pandemic has worsened mental health of people with severe mental illness.”


Pedruzo B, Catalan A, Aymerich C, et al. Psychological impact of COVID-19 lockdown on a population with serious mental illness. A prospective cohort study. Rev Psiquiatr Salud Ment. Published online June 17 2022. doi:10.1016/j.rpsm.2022.04.004

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor