A new population-based study by Israeli & UK Scientists examines how over 1,000 Israeli’s mental health was impacted by a second COVID-19 lockdown

Professor Menachem Ben-Ezra

Published in BMJ Open: Association between mental health trajectories and somatic symptoms* following a second lockdown in Israel: a longitudinal study

A new study published by Menachem Ben-Ezra, Yaira Hamama-Raz, Elazar Leshem and Yafit Levin from Ariel University along with Robin Goodwin from Warwick University in the UK, found that there was a mental toll of a second lockdown on based on responses from a population-based study drawn from a probability-based internet panel of over 100,000 Israelis. This was the first time that an in-depth study was conducted to measure the mental health of respondents before and after the second lockdown.

The study looked at trajectory of anxiety and adjustment disorder following a second lockdown. There were four trajectories. Stable-low (those who’s mental health didn’t changed or slightly changed following a second lockdown). The stable high trajectory, those who were at higher risk for anxiety and depression before and after the second lockdown. The exacerbation group, those who’s their mental health deteriorated following the second lockdown and finally, the recovery trajectory, those whose mental health improved following the second lockdown.

The authors of this study checked how these trajectories are associated with higher risk for somatization. Comparing the three trajectories to the stable-low trajectory showed that even the recovery group has significant vulnerability to somatization. The risk was twice in comparison to the stable low group for the anxiety tractor. This risk was increased to 4.66 in the adjustment disorder trajectory. The vulnerable groups in each trajectory were between 4.7-6.4 more likely to at risk for somatization.

The study has to major contributions:

1st: strengthening the claim that a lockdown is a double edge sword. Lockdown prevent mass spreading of the infection at the expanse of mental health.

2nd: The recovery group, which seems to be fine after a second lockdown may hinder their vulnerability by exhibiting somatic symptoms that may mask mental health issues namely anxiety and adjustment disorder that need to be addressed.

For further information please see attached study.

Professor Menachem Ben-Ezra is available for comment in both English and Hebrew either view phone, email or zoom.

* Somatic symptom disorder is diagnosed when a person has a significant focus on physical symptoms, such as pain, weakness or shortness of breath, to a level that results in major distress and/or problems functioning. The individual has excessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors relating to the physical symptoms.

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