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Introduction: There are reports of an increase in depressive symptoms and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular in patients with depression. This study investigates factors related to fear of COVID-19 in former inpatients suffering from depression and healthy controls by assessing variables typically associated with depression and anxiety disorders, i.e. stressful life events (SLEs), the primary emotions SADNESS, PLAY and SEEKING as well as dysfunctional emotion regulation strategies with respect to suppression and reappraisal. Methods: Data of n = 44 former inpatients suffering from depression and n = 49 healthy controls were collected. The study had a longitudinal design with two measurement points. Before the pandemic, SLEs, primary emotions, emotion regulation and depression severity were assessed. During the pandemic, COVID-19 associated stressors and life events, emotion regulation, depression severity and fear of COVID-19 were assessed. Results: Fear of COVID-19 and depression severity during the pandemic were significantly higher in former inpatients than in healthy controls. Depression diagnosis, SLEs and depression severity before the pandemic were significant positive predictors of fear of COVID-19. The primary emotion PLAY was a significant negative predictor of fear of COVID-19. Depression severity did not change significantly in healthy controls. Conclusion: The results show that risk factors for depression might be risk factors for high fear of COVID-19. In addition, a playful personality could help preventing mental stress in pandemic situations. Thus, positivity based interventions could counteract elevated fear scores during a pandemic.
Sanwald, S., Widenhorn-Müller, K., Gahr, M., Kammer, T., Schönfeldt-Lecuona, C., Montag, C., & Kiefer, M. (2022). Primary emotions as predictors for fear of COVID-19 in former inpatients with Major Depressive Disorder and healthy control participants. BMC Psychiatry, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-021-03677-2