The COVID-19 pandemic brings significant challenges for college students. This study aims to investigate changes in psychiatric symptomatology among them compared to the pre-pandemic period alongside their determinants. Data are collected before and 3 months after the onset of the pandemic from 168 students who applied to a college mental health center. Psychiatric symptomatology is assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Self-Report Scale (ASRS). Possible vulnerability factors are screened by a survey on COVID-19-related health and social isolation status, Fear of COVID-19 Scale, Social Media Use Disorder Scale (SMDS), Distress Thermometer, Scoff Eating Questionnaire, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire Short-Form (IPAQ). Results show decreased PHQ-9, GAD-7, and ASRS scores at follow-up. Even though the screen time increases, SMDS scores significantly decline. SMDS have a direct effect on PHQ-9 and ASRS levels, in addition to an indirect effect through the Distress Thermometer. Higher SMDS scores predict higher anxious and depressive symptomatology in repeated assessments. Fear of COVID-19 scores have a direct effect on GAD-7 scores only. This study suggests that the stress level and psychiatric symptomatology of the students decreased significantly in the early phases of the pandemic. The level of social media use disorder should be taken into account while following college students with mental health symptoms.

Fuente: npj Mental Health Research volume
Published: 21 October 2022