Symptom Exacerbations of Patients Attending a Community Mental Health Center During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Remzi Erşah DİNDAR,Eren YILDIZHAN,Nesrin Buket TOMRUK
2024 35(1): 34-45
DOI: 10.5080/u27175
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Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of the
COVID-19 pandemic on the clinical conditions of the patients with
bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) in a
community mental health center (CMHC).
Method: Symptom exacerbations, emergency service admissions, drug
dose increases, additional medication prescriptions, and psychiatric
hospitalizations of patients with BD and SSD in the CMHC were
evaluated retrospectively. The data from the 1-year prior, 6-months
prior, 6-months after the onset and 1-year after the onset of the
pandemic were compared. Hospital and CMHC medical records were
used for outcomes. Personal and Social Performance (PSP) Scale was
used to assess the level of functioning.
Results: 107 patients with the diagnosis of BD and 121 patients with
the diagnosis of SSD were recruited. In the BD group, there was increase
in the frequency of symptom exacerbations (p=0.001) and additional
medication prescriptions or increased dose (p=0.007), with decrease
in emergency service admissions (p=0.039) during the pandemic. In
the patients with SSD, the number of patients with exacerbation of
symptoms (p=0.001) and with increased dose or additional medication
prescriptions (p=0.004) were higher during the pandemic. There was
no increase in the rate of hospitalized patients in the period of first 6
months and first one year. Symptom exacerbations were more frequent
in the SSD group with Covid (+) in family (p=0.016).
Conclusion: The fact that the hospitalization rates remained the same
despite an increase in the acute exacerbations provides info on the
role of CMHCs and how mental health system functioned during the
Keywords: COVID-19, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Psychotic
Disorders, Community Mental Health Center, Hospitalization