Background: Data on the psychological consequences of social isolation imposed by the global public health threat of the COVID-19 pandemic are limited. Mentally healthy people and psychiatric patients react to stress in different ways.
Goal: To examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the general population and the population of psychiatric patients in Vojvodina.
Material and Methods: The study is designed as a cross-sectional study. It was conducted during April, May and June 2020 at the end and immediately after the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in Serbia on the territory of Novi Sad. Participants were divided into two groups - a clinical group of patients with mental disorders and a control group composed of the healthy volunteers. A self-assessment questionnaire was used to collect data on the presence of anxiety and symptoms of depression and behavioral disorders that indicate increased levels of stress - such as insomnia, sedative abuse.
Results: Anxiety, fear, panic attacks (50%), depressive symptoms (42%), sleep problems (30%) and sedative abuse (25%) were the most commonly reported psychiatric symptoms. Healthy subjects did not show a statistically significant presence of any symptoms and signs associated with mental problems.
Conclusion: The results support the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of psychiatric patients. It can be expected that the most pronounced effects of the pandemic on mental health in the general population will be visible in the future.