Trends of new-onset psychosis or mania in psychiatric emergency departments during the COVID19 pandemic: a longitudinal comparative study

Aviv Segev, Efrat Hirsch-Klein, Gershon Kotz, Shiri Kamhi-Nesher, Shikma Halimi, Khalil Qashu, Ephraim Schreiber, Amir Krivoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

COVID19 infection was associated with possible psychiatric manifestations, including psychosis and mania. In addition, psychiatric disorders might be triggered by severe psychological reactions to the pandemic or the measures taken to contain it. This study aimed to assess the trends of new-onset psychosis/mania during the pandemic timeline. Psychiatric emergency department records during January-July 2019 and 2020 of two regional mental health centers were manually examined. Cases of new-onset psychosis or mania were found in 326 out of 5161 records examined. The ratio of these cases increased by 45.5% in 2020 compared to 2019 (189 out of 2367, 137 out of 2479, respectively, p = 0.001). The peak increase was in April 2020 (9.4% vs. 4.7%, p = 0.015). There was no association between the rise of new-onset psychotic or manic episodes and national incidence of COVID19 cases, as observed during Israel 2nd wave. PCR tests were negative, except a single case. In this study, an increase in new-onset psychosis/mania was identified during the initial phase of the pandemic. Though causality could not be directly inferred, lack of infection symptoms, negative PCR testing and temporal distribution incongruent with COVID19 caseload did not support a direct effect of SARS-CoV-2. Alternative explanations are discussed, such as psychological reaction to stress and preventive measures, as well as case-shifting between different mental health settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21002
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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