Physical Health Profile and Associated Behavior During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Patients With Bipolar Disorder

Jon Dyg Sperling, Nina Dalkner, Christina Berndt, Eva Fleischmann, Michaela Ratzenhofer, Julia Martini, Andrea Pfennig, Michael Bauer, Eva Reininghaus, Maj Vinberg


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased psychological strain on public mental health and may impact behavioral, mental, and physical health, presumably with effects on patients with severe mental disorders. This study examines pandemic-related physical and mental health and (compensatory) behavioral changes, in patients with BD as compared to healthy control individuals. Method: Physical and mental health and self-reported changes in daily structure and behavior due to the pandemic were assessed using a self-constructed questionnaire and the brief symptom inventory (BSI) in Germany, Austria, and Denmark in individuals with BD and a healthy control group. Results: The present study included 118 individuals with BD and 215 healthy controls. Individuals with BD reported statistically significant higher physical risk burden, increased weight gain, more physical comorbidities, and a decrease in physical activity and they further reported higher rates of COVID-19 testing, had more worries concerning health, and experienced more anxiety but less social distancing. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have a greater impact on physical health in individuals with BD than in healthy controls. Individuals with BD appear to be having more difficulties compensating their behavior due to the pandemic which could amplify the effect of risk factors associated with poorer physical health. This highlights the necessity for optimizing and targeting the overall treatment of both mental and physical health in patients with BD during periods with far-reaching changes such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Limitations: Sampling issues and self-report forms, selectivity (missing elderly, and those lacking access or knowledge of technology).

TidsskriftFrontiers in Psychiatry
StatusUdgivet - 6 dec. 2021


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