Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on individuals with bipolar disorder


The Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research data team, led by biostatistician Peisong Han and data scientist Anastasia Yocum, asked our longitudinal study research participants to help us investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health and well-being. Throughout the spring and summer of 2020, participants responded to weekly questionnaires about their mood, well-being and the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent stay-at-home order on their lives. The research aim was not only to study the baseline effects of the stay-at-home order, but also to study the trajectory of any effects longitudinally.  

560 individuals participated in the study.

  • About 75% of participants reported a change in their routines.
  • About 21% of participants had a change in their family income/employment at the end of April. That family income/employment change dropped to about 15% at the end of May.
  • About 6% of participants had a change in their food access.
  • Approximately 32%, 12%, and 42% of participants reported a change in their medical health care access, mental health treatment access, and social supports access, respectively.
  • Just less than half of the participants experienced pandemic-related stress by the end of April. This number dropped slightly to 38% at the end of May.
  • Four of our participants personally experienced COVID symptoms.  

Thanks to their participation, we were able to definitely state that this mandate to stay-at-home had a greater significant effect on our participants with bipolar disorder when compared to our healthy controls in measurements relating to change in routines, change in family income/employment, change in access to social supports, experiencing pandemic-related stress, time it took to fall asleep, sleep duration and quality, and standard mood measurements. 

Collection and analysis of this data continues and we hope to provide information that will help inform treatment for bipolar disorder and responses to this and future health crises.