Emotions and worries during 1.5 years of the COVID-19 pandemic - how adults with and without mental health conditions coped with the crisis

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Background: During the COVID 19 pandemic, there were social restrictions with severe mental stress for a long time. Most studies on mental health consequences of the pandemic focused primarily on the beginning of the pandemic. The present study on families of patients or study participants of a child and adolescent psychiatry aimed to examine long-term profiles of emotions and worries in adults with and without mental health condition (mhc) during the first 1.5 years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We surveyed emotions and worries of 128 adults with (n = 32) and without (n = 96) pre-pandemic mhc over a 1.5-year study period from spring 2020 until summer/autumn 2021. Emotions and worries were captured at four time points: [i] pre-pandemic, [ii] spring 2020 (first lockdown was implemented), [iii] December 2020 (hard lockdown at Christmas time) and [iv] summer/autumn 2021 (considerable ease of regulations); [i] pre-pandemic and [iii] December 2020 were measured retrospectively). First, we run non-parametric tests to compare emotions and worries between adults with and without pre-pandemic mhc at the four time points. Next, we conducted latent profile analysis to identify subgroups from the total sample who share similar trajectories of emotions and worries. Finally, a logistic regression analysis was run to examine whether socio-demographic and psycho-social factors were related to identified trajectories of emotions and worries. Results: Adults without pre-pandemic mhc reported a strong worsening of emotions and worries at the beginning of the pandemic and a lower worsening during the course, while adults with pre-pandemic mhc reported a constant worsening of emotions and worries. The latent profile analysis revealed three profiles of adults who show either i) an adaption, ii) no adaption or iii) a continuous high condition. With increasing age, higher perceived stress and pre-pandemic mhc, the likelihood of an adaption was increased. Conclusion: The results of the present study suggested that adults (both with and without pre-pandemic mhc) coped the crisis with different strategies and that most of them returned to their initial, pre-pandemic levels of emotions and worries when social restrictions were considerably eased or stopped.


Original languageEnglish
Article number114
JournalBMC psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2024

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0001-7579-1829/work/153109659
ORCID /0000-0003-1477-5395/work/153110233
Scopus 85184785867
PubMed 38336631


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Coping, Crisis, Lockdown, Mental health, Psychosocial stress, SARS-CoV-2, Pandemics, Humans, Mental Health, Communicable Disease Control, Emotions, COVID-19, Adolescent, Adult, Retrospective Studies, Child