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Early studies of common mental disorders (CMDs) during the COVID-19 pandemic mainly report increases; however, more recent findings have been mixed. Also, studies assessing the effects of restriction measures on CMDs show varied results. The aim of this meta-analysis was to assess changes in levels of CMDs from pre-/early to during the pandemic and the effects of restriction policies in the European population.
We searched for studies assessing both pre-pandemic and peri-pandemic self-reported emotional distress and symptoms of depression or anxiety among nationally/regionally representative samples in Europe and collected microdata from those studies. Estimates of corona containment index were related to changes in CMDs using random-effects meta-regression.
Our search strategy resulted in findings from 15 datasets drawn from 8 European countries being included in the meta-analysis. There was no evidence of change in the prevalence of emotional distress, anxiety, or depression from before to during the pandemic; but from early pandemic periods to later periods, there were significant decreases in emotional distress and anxiety. Increased school restrictions and social distancing were associated with small increases in self-reported emotional distress.
Despite initial concerns of increased emotional distress and mental illness due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the results from this meta-analysis indicate that there was a decrease in emotional distress and no change in anxiety or depression in the general population in Europe. Overall, our findings support the importance of strong governance when implementing periodic and robust restriction measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Although complex post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder are distinct disorders, there is confusion in clinical practice regarding the similarities between the diagnostic profiles of these conditions. We summarise the differences in the diagnostic criteria that are clinically informative and we illustrate these with case studies to enable diagnostic accuracy in clinical practice.
The psychosis continuum implies that subclinical psychotic experiences (PEs) can be differentiated from clinically relevant expressions since they are not accompanied by a ‘need for care’.
Using data from Wave 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; N = 34 653), the current study examined variation in functioning, symptomology and aetiological risk across the psychosis phenotype [i.e. variation from (i) no PEs, ‘No PEs’ to (ii) non-distressing PEs, ‘PE-Experienced Only’ to (iii) distressing PEs, ‘PE-Impaired’ to (iv) clinically defined psychotic disorder, ‘Diagnosed’].
A graded trend was present such that, compared to those with no PEs, the Diagnosed group had the poorest functioning, followed by the PE-Impaired then PE-Experienced Only groups. In relation to symptom expression, the PE-Impaired group were more likely than the PE-Experienced Only and the Diagnosed groups to endorse most PEs. Predictors of group membership tended to vary quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Trauma, current mental health diagnoses (anxiety and depression) and drug use variables differentiated between all levels of the continuum, with the exception of the extreme end (PE-Impaired v. Diagnosed). Only a few variables distinguished groups at the upper end of the continuum: female sex, older age, unemployment, parental mental health hospitalisation and lower likelihood of having experienced physical assault.
The findings highlight the importance of continuum-based interpretations of the psychosis phenotype and afford valuable opportunities to consider if and how impairment, symptom expression and risk change along the continuum.
Current information about the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the general adult population of the Republic of Ireland is lacking. In this study, we examined the prevalence of 12 common mental disorders, the proportion of adults who screened positive for any disorder, the sociodemographic factors associated with meeting criteria for a disorder and the associations between each disorder and history of attempted suicide.
A non-probability nationally representative sample (N = 1110) of adults living in Ireland completed self-report measures of 12 mental health disorders. Effect sizes were calculated using odds ratios from logistic regression models, and population attributable risk fractions (PAFs) were estimated to quantify the associations between each disorder and attempted suicide.
Prevalence rates ranged from 15.0% (insomnia disorder) to 1.7% (histrionic personality disorder). Overall, 42.5% of the sample met criteria for a mental health disorder, and 11.1% had a lifetime history of attempted suicide. Younger age, being a shift worker and trauma exposure were independently associated with a higher likelihood of having a mental health disorder, while being in university was associated with a lower likelihood of having a disorder. ICD-11 complex posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and insomnia disorder had the highest PAFs for attempted suicide.
Mental health disorder prevalence in Ireland is relatively high compared to international estimates. The findings are discussed in relation to important mental health policy implications.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is traditionally understood as a disorder that occurs more commonly in women than in men, and in younger age groups than in older age groups. The objective of this study was to determine if these patterns are also observed in relation to International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) PTSD and complex PTSD (CPTSD).
Secondary data analysis was performed using data collected from three nationally representative samples from the Republic of Ireland (N = 1,020), the United States (N = 1,839), and Israel (N = 1,003), and one community sample from the United Kingdom (N = 1,051).
Estimated prevalence rates of ICD-11 PTSD were higher in women than in men in each sample, and at a level consistent with existing data derived from Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-based models of PTSD. Furthermore, rates of ICD-11 PTSD were generally lower in older age groups for men and women. For CPTSD, there was inconsistent evidence of sex and age differences, and some indication of a possible interaction between these two demographic variables.
Despite considerable revisions to PTSD in ICD-11, the same sex and age profile was observed to previous DSM-based models of PTSD. CPTSD, however, does not appear to show the same sex and age differences as PTSD. Theoretical models that seek to explain sex and age differences in trauma-related psychopathology may need to be reconsidered given the distinct effects for ICD-11 PTSD and CPTSD.
The current study argues that population prevalence estimates for mental health disorders, or changes in mean scores over time, may not adequately reflect the heterogeneity in mental health response to the COVID-19 pandemic within the population.
The COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium (C19PRC) Study is a longitudinal, nationally representative, online survey of UK adults. The current study analysed data from its first three waves of data collection: Wave 1 (March 2020, N = 2025), Wave 2 (April 2020, N = 1406) and Wave 3 (July 2020, N = 1166). Anxiety-depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire Anxiety and Depression Scale (a composite measure of the PHQ-9 and GAD-7) and COVID-19-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the International Trauma Questionnaire. Changes in mental health outcomes were modelled across the three waves. Latent class growth analysis was used to identify subgroups of individuals with different trajectories of change in anxiety-depression and COVID-19 PTSD. Latent class membership was regressed on baseline characteristics.
Overall prevalence of anxiety-depression remained stable, while COVID-19 PTSD reduced between Waves 2 and 3. Heterogeneity in mental health response was found, and hypothesised classes reflecting (i) stability, (ii) improvement and (iii) deterioration in mental health were identified. Psychological factors were most likely to differentiate the improving, deteriorating and high-stable classes from the low-stable mental health trajectories.
A low-stable profile characterised by little-to-no psychological distress (‘resilient’ class) was the most common trajectory for both anxiety-depression and COVID-19 PTSD. Monitoring these trajectories is necessary moving forward, in particular for the ~30% of individuals with increasing anxiety-depression levels.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency has led to numerous attempts to assess the impact of the pandemic on population mental health. The findings indicate an increase in depression and anxiety but have been limited by the lack of specificity about which aspects of the pandemic (e.g. viral exposure or economic threats) have led to adverse mental health outcomes.
Network analyses were conducted on data from wave 1 (N = 2025, recruited 23 March–28 March 2020) and wave 2 (N = 1406, recontacts 22 April–1 May 2020) of the COVID-19 Psychological Research Consortium Study, an online longitudinal survey of a representative sample of the UK adult population. Our models included depression (PHQ-9), generalized anxiety (GAD-7) and trauma symptoms (ITQ); and measures of COVID-specific anxiety, exposure to the virus in self and close others, as well as economic loss due to the pandemic.
A mixed graphical model at wave 1 identified a potential pathway from economic adversity to anxiety symptoms via COVID-specific anxiety. There was no association between viral exposure and symptoms. Ising network models using clinical cut-offs for symptom scores at each wave yielded similar findings, with the exception of a modest effect of viral exposure on trauma symptoms at wave 1 only. Anxiety and depression symptoms formed separate clusters at wave 1 but not wave 2.
The psychological impact of the pandemic evolved in the early phase of lockdown. COVID-related anxiety may represent the mechanism through which economic consequences of the pandemic are associated with psychiatric symptoms.
Although there has been significant work on the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attachment orientation, this is less the case for complex PTSD (CPTSD). The primary aim of this paper was to assess the strength of the association between the four adult attachment styles (i.e., secure, dismissing, preoccupied, and fearful) and severity of CPTSD symptoms (i.e., symptoms of PTSD and disturbances in self-organization [DSO]). We hypothesized that attachment orientation would be more strongly associated with DSO symptoms compared to PTSD symptoms. A trauma exposed clinical sample (N = 331) completed self-report measures of traumatic life events, CPTSD symptoms, and attachment orientation. It was found that secure attachment and fearful attachment were significantly associated with DSO symptoms but not with PTSD symptoms. Dismissing attachment style was significantly associated with PTSD and DSO symptoms. Preoccupied attachment was not significantly associated with CPTSD symptoms. Treatment implications for CPTSD using an attachment framework are discussed.
A recent suicidal drive hypothesis posits that psychotic experiences (PEs) may serve to externalize internally generated and self-directed threat (i.e., self-injurious/suicidal behavior [SIB]) in order to optimize survival; however, it must first be demonstrated that such internal threat can both precede and inform PEs. The current study conducted the first known bidirectional analysis of SIB and PEs to test whether SIB could be considered as a plausible antecedent for PEs. Prospective data were utilized from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally representative birth cohort of 2232 twins, that captured SIB (any self-harm or suicidal attempt) and PEs at ages 12 and 18 years. Cross-lagged panel models demonstrated that the association between SIB at age 12 and PEs at age 18 was as strong as the association between PEs at age 12 and SIB at age 18. Indeed, the best representation of the data was a model where these paths were constrained to be equal (OR = 2.48, 95% CI = 1.63–3.79). Clinical interview case notes for those who reported both SIB and PEs at age 18, revealed that PEs were explicitly characterized by SIB/threat/death-related content for 39% of cases. These findings justify further investigation of the suicidal drive hypothesis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis, necessitating drastic changes to living conditions, social life, personal freedom and economic activity. No study has yet examined the presence of psychiatric symptoms in the UK population under similar conditions.
We investigated the prevalence of COVID-19-related anxiety, generalised anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms in the UK population during an early phase of the pandemic, and estimated associations with variables likely to influence these symptoms.
Between 23 and 28 March 2020, a quota sample of 2025 UK adults aged 18 years and older, stratified by age, gender and household income, was recruited by online survey company Qualtrics. Participants completed standardised measures of depression, generalised anxiety and trauma symptoms relating to the pandemic. Bivariate and multivariate associations were calculated for demographic and health-related variables.
Higher levels of anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms were reported compared with previous population studies, but not dramatically so. Anxiety or depression and trauma symptoms were predicted by young age, presence of children in the home, and high estimates of personal risk. Anxiety and depression were also predicted by low income, loss of income and pre-existing health conditions in self and others. Specific anxiety about COVID-19 was greater in older participants.
This study showed a modest increase in the prevalence of mental health problems in the early stages of the pandemic, and these problems were predicted by several specific COVID-related variables. Further similar surveys, particularly of those with children at home, are required as the pandemic progresses.
To determine (i) whether distinct groups of infants under 6 months old (U6M) were identifiable as malnourished based on anthropometric measures and if so to determine the probability of admittance to GOAL Ethiopia’s Management of At Risk Mothers and Infants (MAMI) programme based on group membership; (ii) whether there were discrepancies in admission using recognised anthropometric criteria, compared with group membership and (iii) the barriers and potential solutions to identifying malnutrition within U6M.
Mixed-methods approaches were used, whereby data collected by GOAL Ethiopia underwent: factor mixture modelling, χ2 analysis and logistic regression analysis. Qualitative analysis was performed through coding of key informant interviews.
Data were collected in two refugee camps in Ethiopia. Key informant interviews were conducted remotely with international MAMI programmers and nutrition experts.
Participants were 3444 South-Sudanese U6M and eleven key informants experienced in MAMI programming.
Well-nourished and malnourished groups were identified, with notable discrepancies between group membership and MAMI programme admittance. Despite weight for age z-scores (WAZ) emerging as the most discriminant measure to identify malnutrition, admittance was most strongly associated with mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC). Misconceptions surrounding malnutrition, a dearth of evidence and issues with the current identification protocol emerged as barriers to identifying malnutrition among U6M.
Our model suggests that WAZ is the most discriminating anthropometric measure for malnutrition in this population. However, the challenges of using WAZ should be weighed up against the more scalable, but potentially overly sensitive and less accurate use of MUAC among U6M.
Dimensional models of psychopathology are increasingly common and there is evidence for the existence of a general dimension of psychopathology (‘p’). The existing literature presents two ways to model p: as a bifactor or as a higher-order dimension. Bifactor models typically fit sample data better than higher-order models, and are often selected as better fitting alternatives but there are reasons to be cautious of such an approach to model selection. In this study the bifactor and higher-order models of p were compared in relation to associations with established risk variables for mental illness.
A trauma exposed community sample from the United Kingdom (N = 1051) completed self-report measures of 49 symptoms of psychopathology.
A higher-order model with four first-order dimensions (Fear, Distress, Externalising and Thought Disorder) and a higher-order p dimension provided satisfactory model fit, and a bifactor representation provided superior model fit. Bifactor p and higher-order p were highly correlated (r = 0.97) indicating that both parametrisations produce near equivalent general dimensions of psychopathology. Latent variable models including predictor variables showed that the risk variables explained more variance in higher-order p than bifactor p. The higher-order model produced more interpretable associations for the first-order/specific dimensions compared to the bifactor model.
The higher-order representation of p, as described in the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology, appears to be a more appropriate way to conceptualise the general dimension of psychopathology than the bifactor approach. The research and clinical implications of these discrepant ways of modelling p are discussed.
The 11th revision to the WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) identified complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) as a new condition. There is a pressing need to identify effective CPTSD interventions.
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of psychological interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where participants were likely to have clinically significant baseline levels of one or more CPTSD symptom clusters (affect dysregulation, negative self-concept and/or disturbed relationships). We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE and PILOTS databases (January 2018), and examined study and outcome quality.
Fifty-one RCTs met inclusion criteria. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure alone (EA) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) were superior to usual care for PTSD symptoms, with effects ranging from g = −0.90 (CBT; k = 27, 95% CI −1.11 to −0.68; moderate quality) to g = −1.26 (EMDR; k = 4, 95% CI −2.01 to −0.51; low quality). CBT and EA each had moderate–large or large effects on negative self-concept, but only one trial of EMDR provided useable data. CBT, EA and EMDR each had moderate or moderate–large effects on disturbed relationships. Few RCTs reported affect dysregulation data. The benefits of all interventions were smaller when compared with non-specific interventions (e.g. befriending). Multivariate meta-regression suggested childhood-onset trauma was associated with a poorer outcome.
The development of effective interventions for CPTSD can build upon the success of PTSD interventions. Further research should assess the benefits of flexibility in intervention selection, sequencing and delivery, based on clinical need and patient preferences.
Background: Two ‘sibling’ disorders have been proposed for the fourthcoming 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11): post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (CPTSD). Examining psychological factors that may be associated with CPTSD, such as self-compassion, is an important first step in its treatment that can inform consideration of which problems are most salient and what interventions are most relevant. Aims: We set out to investigate the association between self-compassion and the two factors of CPTSD: the PTSD factor (re-experiencing, avoidance, sense of threat) and the Disturbances in Self-Organization (DSO) factor (affect dysregulation, negative self-concept and disturbances in relationships). We hypothesized that self-compassion subscales would be negatively associated with both PTSD and DSO symptom clusters. Method: A predominantly female, clinical sample (n = 106) completed self-report scales to measure traumatic life events, ICD-11 CPTSD and self-compassion. Results: Significant negative associations were found between the CPTSD DSO clusters of symptoms and self-compassion subscales, but not for the PTSD ones. Specifically it was also found that self-judgement and common humanity significantly predicted hypoactive affect dysregulation whereas self-judgement and isolation significantly predicted negative self-concept. Conclusions: Our results indicate that self-compassion may be a useful treatment target for ICD-11 CPTSD, particularly for symptoms of negative self-concept and affect dysregulation. Future research is required to investigate the efficacy and acceptability of interventions that have implicit foundations on compassion.
Aims: This study aimed to assess the validity of two models which integrate the cognitive (satisfaction with life) and affective (symptoms of anxiety and depression) aspects of subjective well-being within the framework of rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) theory; specifically REBT's theory of psychopathology and theory of psychological health. Method: 397 Irish and Northern Irish undergraduate students completed measures of rational/irrational beliefs, satisfaction with life, and anxiety/depression symptoms. Structural equation modelling techniques were used in order to test our hypothesis within a cross-sectional design. Results: REBT's theory of psychopathology (χ2 = 373.78, d.f. = 163, p < .001; comparative fit index (CFI) = .92; Tucker Lewis index (TLI) = .91; root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) = .06 (95% CI = .05 to .07); standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) = .07) and psychological health (χ2 = 371.89, d.f. = 181, p < .001; CFI = .93; TLI = .92; RMSEA = .05 (95% CI = .04 to .06); SRMR = .06) provided acceptable fit of the data. Moreover, the psychopathology model explained 34% of variance in levels of anxiety/depression, while the psychological health model explained 33% of variance. Conclusions: This study provides important findings linking the fields of clinical and positive psychology within a comprehensible framework for both researchers and clinicians. Findings are discussed in relation to the possibility of more effective interventions, incorporating and targeting not only negative outcomes, but also positive concepts within the same model.
This study provides the first assessment of the latent structure of the Profile of Emotional Distress (PED). The PED is a self-report measure of emotional distress (ED) associated strongly with its links to Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). To date, the PED has been weakly conceptualized using both unitary and binary models of ED. In this study, the dimensionality of the PED was examined within an alternative models’ framework using confirmatory factor analysis and bifactor modelling techniques. A total of 313 law enforcement, military, and related emergency-service personnel completed the PED. Results indicated that a bifactor model conceptualization was the best fit of the data. The bifactor model included a single general factor (ED) and four grouping factors (Concern, Anxiety, Sadness, Depression). Model parameter estimates indicated that the ED factor accounts for the majority of covariance among the observable indicators. Low factor loadings were observed on each of the grouping factors, thus subscale construction is not recommended. Composite reliability results demonstrated that the ED factor possesses excellent internal reliability. The PED was found to be a reliable and valid measure of emotional distress.
Background: Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) assumes that rational beliefs act as cognitive protective factors against the development of psychopathology; however little empirical evidence exists regarding the nature of the possible protective effects that they offer. Aims: The current study investigates whether rational beliefs moderate the impact of irrational beliefs on posttraumatic stress symptomology (PTS). Method: Three hundred and thirteen active law enforcement, military, and related emergency service personnel took part in the current study. Sequential moderated multiple regression analysis was employed to investigate: (i) the direct impact of irrational beliefs on PTS; (ii) the direct impact of rational beliefs on PTS; (iii) the moderating effects of rational beliefs in the relationship between irrational beliefs and PTS. Results: The irrational beliefs predicted by REBT theory emerged as critical predictors of PTS symptomology, in particular Depreciation beliefs. Rational beliefs (Preferences, and Acceptance beliefs) had a direct, negative impact on levels of PTS, and Acceptance beliefs moderated the impact of Catastrophizing beliefs on PTS. Conclusions: Irrational beliefs are important cognitive vulnerability factors in symptoms of PTS, while rational beliefs (Acceptance) appear to have a protective role in the emergence of PTS symptoms, both directly and by moderating the impact of Catastrophizing beliefs.
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