Publication date: Jan 19, 2024
Defying the COVID-19 pandemic required restriction measures of unprecedented scale, that may induce and exacerbate psychiatric symptoms across the population. We aimed to assess in vivo dynamic effects of mitigation strategies on human brain neurobiology, neuroplastic as well as psychometric parameters. Three structural magnetic resonance imaging measurements, serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (sBDNF) analyses, and psychometric assessments (Beck Depression Inventory-II and Perceived Stress Questionnaire-20) were performed in healthy individuals and patients with a recurrent major depressive disorder in the period from September 2020 to July 2021. Group differences and changes over time in structural imaging, neuroplastic and psychometric parameters were assessed with linear mixed models. Analysis of data from 18 patients with a recurrent major depressive disorder and 28 healthy individuals showed clinically relevant scores for depression and stress in the patient group as well as significant cross-sectional differences in depression scores (F = 30. 89, p 0. 1). Despite the limited sample size, the strength of this investigation lies in the multimodal assessment of peri-pandemic lockdown effects. Nine months of varying restrictions measures did not result in observable changes in brain morphology nor impact depressive symptoms in either psychiatric patients with a recurrent major depressive disorder or healthy individuals. While these neurobiological and psychometric data stand in contrast to initial expectations about the effects of restriction measures, they might inform future investigations of longitudinal effects of restriction measures on mental health.
Open Access PDF