Correlates of psychotic like experiences (PLEs) during Pandemic: An online study investigating a possible link between the SARS-CoV-2 infection and PLEs among adolescents
Background This study investigated whether SARS-CoV-2 infection, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, cigarette, alcohol, drug usage contribute to psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) among adolescents during the pandemic. We also aimed to explore whether baseline inflammatory markers or the number of SARS-CoV-2-related symptoms are associated with PLEs, and the latter is mediated by internalizing symptoms.
Methods Altogether, 684 adolescents aged 12–18 (SARS-CoV-2 group n = 361, control group (CG) n = 323) were recruited. The Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences-42-Positive Dimension (CAPE-Pos), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), and Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaires were completed by all volunteers using an online survey. C-reactive Protein and hemogram values, and SARS-CoV-2-related symptoms during the acute infection period were recorded in the SARS-CoV-2 group. Group comparisons, correlations, logistic regression, and bootstrapped mediation analyses were performed.
Results CAPE-Pos-Frequency/Stress scores were significantly higher, whereas GAD-7-Total and PSQI-Total scores were significantly lower in SARS-CoV-2 than CG. Among the SARS-CoV-2 group, monocyte count and the number of SARS-CoV-2-symptoms were positively correlated with CAPE-Pos-Frequency/Stress scores. Besides SARS-CoV-2, cigarette use, GAD-7, and PHQ-9 scores significantly contributed to the presence of at least one CAPE-Pos “often” or “almost always”. PHQ-9 and GAD-7 fully mediated the relationship between the number of SARS-CoV-2 symptoms and CAPE-Pos-Frequency.
Conclusions This study is the first to show a possible relationship between SARS-CoV-2 infection and PLEs among adolescents. Depression, anxiety, and cigarette use also contributed to PLEs. The number of SARS-Cov-2-symptoms and PLEs association was fully mediated by internalizing symptoms, but prospective studies will need to confirm this result.