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Springer Nature [academic journals on], Translational Psychiatry, 1(11), 2021

DOI: 10.1038/s41398-021-01508-2



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Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on mental health in Germany: longitudinal observation of different mental health trajectories and protective factors

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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AbstractThe COVID-19 pandemic and resulting measures can be regarded as a global stressor. Cross-sectional studies showed rather negative impacts on people’s mental health, while longitudinal studies considering pre-lockdown data are still scarce. The present study investigated the impact of COVID-19 related lockdown measures in a longitudinal German sample, assessed since 2017. During lockdown, 523 participants completed additional weekly online questionnaires on e.g., mental health, COVID-19-related and general stressor exposure. Predictors for and distinct trajectories of mental health outcomes were determined, using multilevel models and latent growth mixture models, respectively. Positive pandemic appraisal, social support, and adaptive cognitive emotion regulation were positively, whereas perceived stress, daily hassles, and feeling lonely negatively related to mental health outcomes in the entire sample. Three subgroups (“recovered,” 9.0%; “resilient,” 82.6%; “delayed dysfunction,” 8.4%) with different mental health responses to initial lockdown measures were identified. Subgroups differed in perceived stress and COVID-19-specific positive appraisal. Although most participants remained mentally healthy, as observed in the resilient group, we also observed inter-individual differences. Participants’ psychological state deteriorated over time in the delayed dysfunction group, putting them at risk for mental disorder development. Consequently, health services should especially identify and allocate resources to vulnerable individuals.