Home Medizin Eine Angsttherapie vor einer COVID-19-Pandemie schützt vor erhöhtem Stress

Eine Angsttherapie vor einer COVID-19-Pandemie schützt vor erhöhtem Stress

von NFI Redaktion

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented stress burden caused by fears of a novel and deadly disease, great uncertainty, and resulting isolation measures, which in turn resulted in increased anxiety for many individuals. However, a new study suggests that individuals who received anxiety therapy before the start of the pandemic did not experience an increase in their symptoms during this exceptionally challenging time.

The new research indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provided tools to help individuals with anxiety disorders cope with their symptoms in the face of these intense stressors, according to the study’s authors. The study, led by psychologists from McLean Hospital, a member of Mass General Brigham, and Touro University, was published on March 13th in Plus One.

Our research suggests that CBT and DBT can provide significant benefits in protecting individuals‘ mental health amid a global disaster and a time of upheaval. „Those treated for anxiety know that fighting against it is not helpful and that there are tools to help accept the current reality of their situation,“ he added. „In a way, having had an anxiety disorder before a crisis occurs can be a blessing.“


David H. Rosmarin, PhD, ABPP, Lead author of the study, clinical psychologist at McLean Hospital and associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School

For the study, researchers compared the treatment courses of 764 individuals participating in outpatient therapy, dividing them into four groups based on when they began treatment: pre-pandemic (start date on or before December 31, 2019), pandemic onset (from January 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020), during the pandemic (from April 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020), and post-pandemic, once vaccines became available (on or after January 1, 2021).

Anxiety was measured using the GAD-7 questionnaire, which assesses anxiety symptoms, at intake and at each subsequent session. The therapy consisted of CBT and DBT.

The results showed that patients started treatment with moderate anxiety, which rapidly decreased within 25 days of starting therapy and gradually decreased to mild anxiety over subsequent sessions. When comparing the four patient groups, researchers found no significant differences among them, indicating that the treatment effects were robust to environmental stressors related to the pandemic. Furthermore, patients who began treatment at the start of the pandemic did not show an increase in anxiety during the first acute phase of COVID-19 (March 20, 2020, to July 1, 2020).

We were surprised. We expected that patients would show increasing anxiety during the peak of the pandemic and before vaccines were available, and that therapy would be less effective, but that was not the case.“


Steven Pirutinsky, PhD, Co-author of the study, Assistant Professor at the Touro University Graduate School of Social Work

Studies have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health, with a measurable increase in anxiety from the start of the pandemic in early 2020 until the availability of vaccines in early 2021. A report from the World Health Organization found a 25% increase in the worldwide prevalence of anxiety and depression in the first year of the pandemic.

„There is a widespread misconception that anxiety is a risk factor for people to collapse and become non-functional,“ Rosmarin says. „However, when people receive evidence-based psychotherapy and learn coping skills, they can become more resilient than those who have never experienced anxiety.“

Limitations of the study include a participant pool that was diverse demographically and clinically but mainly consisted of highly educated individuals specific to the Northeast region of the United States. The group with pandemic onset was also smaller than the others, possibly due to limited availability of in-person therapy at that time. The study also did not address other mental health measures, including depression and substance use. Further research is needed to gain insights into how these findings may impact other regions of the country and other conditions besides anxiety disorders.

Source:

Journal Reference:

Rosmarin, DH, et al. (2024) Response to anxiety treatments before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. PLUS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0296949.

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