The SARs-CoV pandemic and subsequent COVID illness has no doubt affected all of us in substantial ways. Those of us that are located in Michigan were ordered by the Governor to Stay-At-Home for five weeks, from March 24 to June 1, 2020. The Prechter research team lead by biostatistician Peisong Han and data scientist Anastasia Yocum called upon our Prechter bipolar longitudinal study research participants to enter a new study to investigate the effects of this isolation. Results of this study have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
This study showed us that the mandate to stay-at-home had a greater effect on our participants with bipolar when compared to the healthy controls. At the end of April 2020, which was 1.5 months into the state-wide lockdown in Michigan, the individuals with bipolar disorder were overall in a worse situation compared to the healthy controls. One person told us that the stay at home order, “Intensified discomfort and [feelings of being] trapped because of a long-term unwanted apartment mate, even before the pandemic, who is also mentally ill.”
While distress was experienced in both healthy controls and persons with bipolar disorder, those with bipolar disorder recovered slower and with less magnitude than healthy controls. Notably, those with bipolar disorder symptomology did not improve over the course of the study, whereas the healthy controls showed a steady improvement.
It’s hoped these results will enable clinicians to better understand the effect of the COVID pandemic and isolating stay-at-home orders on persons with bipolar disorder and possibly guide treatment decisions while this global pandemic waxes and wanes.