The prevalence of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in Wuhan was 7% one month after the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to a new study published in Psychiatry Research. The study also provides some new insights into predictors of PTSS during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Posttraumatic stress symptoms include intrusive unwanted memories, disturbing dreams, irritable behavior, hyper-arousal, and having difficulty concentrating.
In December 2019, an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. A mandatory quarantine went into effect on January 23, 2020.
The researchers noted that “the lack of clear and definite information” about the virus, as well as “the shortage of medical workers and resources” left residents in the region “suffering intense anxiety due to the uncertainty and insecurity.”
Between January 30 and February 8, 2020, the researchers surveyed 285 residents of Wuhan and surrounding cities. They found that women, populations more susceptible to infection, and those with more sleep problems were more likely to experience greater posttraumatic stress symptoms.
Given that the situation in Wuhan is still unfolding, the researchers say they “have reason to believe that the prevalence of PTSS among the public of the hardest-hit areas will be more severe than the results of this study.”
The study, “Prevalence and predictors of PTSS during COVID-19 Outbreak in China Hardest-hit Areas: Gender differences matter“, was authored by Nianqi Liu, Fan Zhang, Cun Wei, Yanpu Jia, Zhilei Shang, Luna Sun, Lili Wu, Zhuoer Sun, Yaoguang Zhou, Yan Wang, and Weizhi Liu.
(Photo credit: Gauthier DELECROIX)