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Depression and PTSD in the aftermath of strict COVID-19 lockdowns: a cross-sectional and longitudinal network analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 22.09.2022, 16:00 authored by Shuquan Chen, Kaiwen Bi, Shibo Lyu, Pei Sun, George A. Bonanno

Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are two highly comorbid psychological outcomes commonly studied in the context of stress and potential trauma. In Hubei, China, of which Wuhan is the capital, residents experienced unprecedented stringent lockdowns in the early months of 2020 when COVID-19 was first reported. The comorbidity between PTSD and MDD has been previously studied using network models, but often limited to cross-sectional data and analysis.

Objectives: This study aims to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal network structures of MDD and PTSD symptoms using both undirected and directed methods.

Methods: Using three types of network analysis – cross-sectional undirected network, longitudinal undirected network, and directed acyclic graph (DAG) – we examined the interrelationships between MDD and PTSD symptoms in a sample of Hubei residents assessed in April, June, August, and October 2020. We identified the most central symptoms, the most influential bridge symptoms, and causal links among symptoms.

Results: In both cross-sessional and longitudinal networks, the most central depressive symptoms included sadness and depressed mood, whereas the most central PTSD symptoms changed from irritability and hypervigilance at the first wave to difficulty concentrating and avoidance of potential reminders at later waves. Bridge symptoms showed similarities and differences between cross-sessional and longitudinal networks with irritability/anger as the most influential bridge longitudinally. The DAG found feeling blue and intrusive thoughts the gateways to the emergence of other symptoms.

Conclusions: Combining cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis, this study elucidated central and bridge symptoms and potential causal pathways among PTSD and depression symptoms. Clinical implications and limitations are discussed.

This study examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal network structures of depression and post-traumatic disorder symptoms using undirected and directed methods.

The most central depressive symptoms included sadness and depressed mood, whereas the most central post-traumatic disorder symptoms changed from irritability and hypervigilance to difficulty concentrating and avoidance of reminders over time.

Bridge symptoms showed similarities and differences between cross-sessional and longitudinal networks with irritability/anger as the most influential bridge longitudinally.

This study examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal network structures of depression and post-traumatic disorder symptoms using undirected and directed methods.

The most central depressive symptoms included sadness and depressed mood, whereas the most central post-traumatic disorder symptoms changed from irritability and hypervigilance to difficulty concentrating and avoidance of reminders over time.

Bridge symptoms showed similarities and differences between cross-sessional and longitudinal networks with irritability/anger as the most influential bridge longitudinally.

Funding

This research was supported by Tsinghua University Spring Breeze Fund [20201080524] and Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program, awarded to Dr Pei Sun at Tsinghua University.

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