Psychological distress and mental health trajectories during the COVID-19 pandemic in Argentina: a longitudinal study

Scientific reports

Sci Rep. 2022 Apr 4;12(1):5632. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-09663-2.


Psychological-distress increased at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Argentina. Longitudinal studies in developing countries are scarce. Particularly, Argentina had one of the longest lockdowns. Differences in preventive measures against the virus spread between countries may differentially affect the mental health of the populations. Here we aimed to characterize distinct psychological-distress and related-symptoms trajectories associated with the pandemic and explore risk/protective factors. In this longitudinal study, data from 832 Argentineans were collected every 3-5 months, between April 2020-August 2021. Mean psychological-distress levels and related-symptoms tended to increase over time. However, latent-class analysis identified four distinct psychological-distress trajectories. Most individuals had consistently good mental health (Resilient). Two classes showed psychological-distress worsening during the initial phase of the pandemic and recovered at different time points (Fast Recovery; Slow Recovery). The remaining class maintained a mild -level of psychological-distress and began to deteriorate in March 2021 (Deteriorating) continuously. Individuals who are younger, female, have pre-existing psychiatric diagnoses, or have high neuroticism or lower resilience were more likely to experiencing fluctuations in psychological-distress. The mental health trajectory during the pandemic had a complex dynamic. Although most participants remained resilient, a vulnerable group was detected, which deteriorated over time and should be considered by health-services.

PMID:35379888 | PMC:PMC8979149 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-022-09663-2