What is new in research on COVID-19 and mental health?
In this Research Roundup, we explore new studies on connections between COVID-19 and anxiety, depression, and ongoing nervous system injury, as well as drug-drug interactions between COVID-19 treatments and psychotropic medications.
Anxiety, Depression, and Use of Electronics in Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This study assessed the prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms among adolescent students, with a specific focus on examining the impact of electronic device usage on their mental well-being. The investigators found a prevalence of moderate to severe anxiety in 35.4% and moderate to severe depression in 23.9% among the students. Factors associated with higher anxiety and depression scores included female gender, lower academic performance, and smoking, while shorter durations of electronic device usage were linked to lower likelihoods of experiencing depression or anxiety.
“Considering the alarming rates of anxiety and depression in adolescents, along with their connection to the time spent using electronic devices, we strongly recommend the creation of initiatives and support networks to alleviate this issue's impact,” the investigators concluded. “Encouraging healthier lifestyles, such as reducing screen time and increasing physical activity, could potentially enhance the mental well-being of adolescents.”
Hamshari S, Yaseen S, Zayed M, et al. Adolescents' electronic devices use during the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship to anxiety and depression levels: a cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry. 2024;24(1):38.
Nervous System Injury and Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of COVID-19
This study investigated the association between markers of nervous system injury and neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients who survived severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Analyzing plasma markers 6 months post-infection, the research found no robust associations between nervous system injury markers and the severity of acute COVID-19, nor with post-acute neuropsychiatric symptoms.
“Our results provide evidence from the largest sample size to date that post-acute neuropsychiatric symptoms (in terms of depression, anxiety and cognitive deficits measured by PHQ-9, GAD-7, MoCA and C-PSQ) are not the product of ongoing neural injury,” the investigators concluded. “The significant burden of these conditions on COVID-19 survivors necessitates further research into its causes.”
Taquet M, Skorniewska Z, Zetterberg H, et al. Post-acute COVID-19 neuropsychiatric symptoms are not associated with ongoing nervous system injury. Brain Commun. 2023;6(1):fcad357.
Examining Interactions Between Psychotropic Medications and COVID-19 Treatments
This study addressed the challenges for health care providers in managing interactions between psychotropic drugs and newer COVID-19 treatments, such as Paxlovid, remdesivir, dexamethasone, tocilizumab, and baricitinib. The investigators found that while dexamethasone, remdesivir, tocilizumab, and baricitinib have fewer reported interactions with psychotropic medications, Paxlovid may interact with several medications, particularly antipsychotics and anxiolytics, necessitating close monitoring and, in some cases, reconsideration of use.
The investigators concluded that, “These findings underscore the importance of careful consideration and monitoring when combining COVID-19 treatments with other medications to mitigate the risk of adverse interactions and ensure patient safety.”
Boppana U, Leonard TS, Jolayemi A, et al. Drug-drug interactions between COVID-19 treatments and psychotropic medications: an updated study. Cureus. 2023;15(12):e50469.
Note: This Research Roundup was prepared with the assistance of ChatGPT.
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