Impact of COVID-19 on death anxiety in patients with anxiety spectrum disorders: A case–control study
Sampurna Chakraborty1, Prakriti Sinha2, Alok Pratap3, Basudeb Das4, Vikas Kumar5
1 Program Manager, Project Stree Manoraksha, NIMHANS, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
3 Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
4 Professor - Director, Department of Psychiatry, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
5 Clinical tutor, Department of Psychology, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India
Project Manager, Project Stree Manoraksha, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated symptoms in existing diagnosed cases of anxiety. Its impact on people with mental illness is expected to be significant, leading to an increase in relapse rates and expectedly inducing or exacerbating death anxiety.
Aims & Objectives: This study aimed to assess the impact of Covid 19 fear on general anxiety and wellbeing and death anxiety and compare people with anxiety spectrum disorders on perceived fear, autonomic anxiety symptoms, and death anxiety with those without these disorders.
Materials & Methods: We recruited 36 participants with anxiety spectrum disorder (generalized anxiety disorder (n=6), obsessive-compulsive disorder (n=17), panic disorder (n=5) and mixed anxiety and depression (n=8) and 36 individuals free from any psychiatric illness. Tools used include General Health Questionnaire, Fear of COVID-19 Scale, Perceived Stress Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory and Multidimensional Fear of Death Scale.
Results: A statistically significant correlation was noted between many variables in both the study groups. The regression analysis showed a significant difference in general well-being and anxiety & death anxiety in the clinical group. Study outcomes indicated that the current pandemic has triggered significant fear and anxiety in anxiety patients and among healthy controls and has triggered significant death anxiety in the clinical and healthy control group.
Conclusion: The study showed that fear of covid-19 is a predictive factor for stress, death anxiety, and general well-being. These findings may be helpful to plan preventive measures, tailored intervention focusing on death anxiety and relapse plans effectively.