Comorbidity and COVID-19: Investigating the Relationship between Medical and Psychological Well-being

Owen Stafford, Anna Berry, Laura K Taylor, Sinead Wearen, Cian Prendergast, Eddie Murphy, Mark Shevlin, Louise McHugh, Alan Carr, Tom Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVES: To examine the psychological and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients with established mood disorders during a period of stringent mandated social restrictions.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 36 individuals attending the Galway-Roscommon Mental Health Services with an International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, tenth revision (ICD-10) diagnosis of either Bipolar Affective Disorder (BPAD) (n = 20) or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) (n = 16) in this cross-sectional study. We determined the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on anxiety and depressive symptoms, impulsivity, thoughts of self-harm, social and occupational functioning and quality of life.

RESULTS: The COVID-19 pandemic deleteriously impacted mental health (56.3% v. 15.0%, χ2 = 7.42, p = 0.02), and mood (75.0% v. 20.0%, χ2 = 11.17, p = 0.002) to a greater extent in the EUPD compared to the bipolar disorder cohort, with 43.8% of individuals with EUPD reporting an increase in suicidal ideation. Psychometric rating scales [Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Beck Depression Scale (BDS), Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS), Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS)] and Likert scales for anxiety, mood and quality of life noted significantly higher levels of psychopathology in the EUPD cohort (p < 0.01). Qualitative analysis reflected quantitative data with themes of the employment of maladaptive coping mechanisms and reduced mental health supports notable.

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with EUPD are experiencing significant mental health difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The provision and recommencement of therapeutic interventions to this cohort, in particular, are warranted given the significant distress and symptoms being experienced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-277
Number of pages6
JournalIrish Journal of Psychological Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was in part funded and supported by the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council [COV19-2020-044].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.


  • COVID-19
  • Comorbidity
  • Ireland
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemic
  • mental health
  • pandemic


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