The psychological discomfort of confinement worsened in people in pre-dementia stages and it lasted during the de-escalation of the covid-19, according to a study led by the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM).
The study, in which they have also participated researchers from the Barcelona ßeta Brain Research Center (BBRC), a research center of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, is published in the ‘Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease’.
The work has shown that the worsening mental health and mood of the elderly at risk of developing dementia, caused by confinement measures, remained during the first weeks of confinement.
To find out the real impact of the lockdown, Researchers followed 16 people, ages 60 to 80, with no covid symptoms, participants in the PENSA study of prevention of cognitive deterioration in stages prior to the onset of dementia.
Their activity was exhaustively monitored every day and weekly and monthly for two months, which made it possible to compare their evolution before, during and after confinement.
Subjective cognitive impairment is considered as a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease and people who suffer from it are ideal candidates for dementia prevention trials.
Symptoms of anxiety
The data obtained have made it possible to determine that “during the months of strict home confinement, all the participants experienced an increase in general psychological discomfort and symptoms of anxiety and depression, exceeding the pathological threshold”, explained Natàlia Soldevila-Domènech, researcher of the Research Group in Integrated Pharmacology and Systems Neuroscience of the IMIM-Hospital del Mar.
As a novelty, monitoring was done with remote monitoring tools, such as mobile phone applications and fitness bracelets.
Although the cognitive performance of the participants did not show relevant changes in the follow-up period, sí daily physical activity varied, which was reduced by half, but in the de-escalation it recovered quickly. Sleep hours also showed great variability between participants.
The aspects related to mental health they registered a deterioration during the confinement that was maintained once the restrictions began to be lifted, sometimes for a period of more than a month.
Thus, all participants in the study were classified with a possible metal disorder, while before covid-19 only one fell into this category.
At the same time, 56% probably suffered, or were close to doing so, a emotional disorder during confinement, almost twice as many as before (31%), due to an increase in depression symptoms. According to the study, the aspect that worsened the most was mood.
In the participants with the worst records, mood continued to worsen during the first week of de-escalation, staying like this throughout the period studied.
Self-perception of mental health worsened among participants during confinement, and was maintained when restrictions were lifted.
These results show that “the indirect impact of social distancing measures on the mental health of individuals at high risk of Alzheimer disease it can have long-term consequences, “concluded Rafael de la Torre, director of research in Neurosciences at IMIM-Hospital del Mar.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.