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02.02.2022 11:30

Mental Health Problems during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Victims of Potentially Traumatic Experiences

Daniel Jakubowski Team Kommunikation
International Psychoanalytic University Berlin

    A longitudinal study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, including Dr. Lutz Wittmann of the International Psychoanalytic University (IPU) Berlin, shows the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on victims of violence, accidents, and serious threats. According to the study, the impact of the pandemic situation has hindered recovery from potentially traumatic experiences. In light of the results, the authors stress the absolute necessity of securing access to mental healthcare services during the pandemic.

    A longitudinal study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, including Dr. Lutz Wittmann of the International Psychoanalytic University (IPU) Berlin, shows the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on victims of violence, accidents, and serious threats. According to the study, the impact of the pandemic situation has hindered recovery from potentially traumatic experiences. In light of the results, the authors stress the absolute necessity of securing access to mental healthcare services during the pandemic.

    This is effectively the first large, population-based study concerned with the concrete mental health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on victims of potentially traumatic experiences in comparison to those without such experiences. The study included 750 people from the Netherlands who were affected either before or during the pandemic by violence, accident, or serious threat. Their experiences were compared to those of 3,245 people who did not have such experiences before or during the pandemic.

    Analysis of the data showed that the mental health problems caused by potentially traumatic experiences during the pandemic were overall worse than those caused by pre-pandemic traumatic experiences. Hindered recovery from such experiences during the pandemic is evidenced by significantly higher prevalence and incidence of anxiety and depression symptoms, higher prevalence of general mental health problems and post-traumatic symptoms, as well as a higher prevalence of low coping self-efficacy. In contrast, the pandemic seems to have had very little effect on these indicators of mental health in people from the general population who have not had traumatic experiences. Since no differences in the level of emotional and social support between victims of potentially traumatic experiences before and during the pandemic were detected, the authors hypothesize that stressors such as lockdowns, infections, health risks, or unemployment risks adversely affect one’s ability to cope with potentially traumatic experiences.

    Members of the study’s team include Dutch researchers Peter G. van der Velden, Carlo Contino, Marcel Das and Joost Leenen from Centerdata, Tilburg University and the Victim Support Netherlands Fund, as well as Lutz Wittmann from the IPU Berlin. Lutz Wittman is a professor of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at IPU.


    Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

    Prof. Dr. Lutz Wittmann, lutz.wittmann@ipu-berlin.de


    Originalpublikation:

    Velden, P.G. van der, Contino, C., Das, M., Leenen, J., & Wittmann, L. (2022). Differences in mental health problems, coping self-efficacy and social support between adults victimised before and adults victimised after the COVID-19 outbreak: population-based prospective study. British Journal of Psychiatry, https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2021.226


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