2Suleyman Demirel University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, Isparta, Turkey
Objective: Mental illnesses are important determinants in response to the pandemic. However, there are only a limited number of studies investigating the effects of COVID-19 in individuals with mental illnesses. We aimed to reveal the fear of COVID-19, somatosensorial amplification levels, anxiety, depression, and stress levels of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Method: We evaluated 500 participants in three groups. This study enrolled 137 patients with MDD, 140 patients with GAD, and 223 healthy controls. Participants were evaluated with the Whiteley Index 7, Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS), Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21), and The Fear of COVID-19 Scale.
Results: There was a statistically significant difference between the groups’ SSAS, DASS-21, Whiteley Index, and The Fear of COVID-19 Scale scores. In the post hoc analysis, Whiteley Index and DASS-21 subscale scores were higher in patient groups than in the control group (p<0.001). Regression analysis revealed that Whiteley Index, COVID-19 Fear, and DASS-S had a significant effect on somatosensorial amplification.
Conclusion: The findings of our study show that MDD and GAD patients are susceptible to normal bodily sensations. COVID-19 fear and hypochondriasis appear to be essential determinants of somatosensorial amplification. Accordingly, there is a need to develop effective psychological interventions focused on these factors in MDD and GAD.