The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has disrupted millions of lives and commerce. We investigated psychological reactions and insomnia during the COVID-19 outbreak in adults with mental health disorders (MDs).


A self-reported psychological and sleep online survey was conducted in China between February 5th to 19th, 2020. A total of 244 adults with MDs and 1116 controls matched for age, gender and sites were included. Worsened symptoms of anxiety, depressive and insomnia were defined when severity levels shifted to a more severe category compared to pre-COVID-19.


During the COVID-19 outbreak, we found significantly increased prevalence of anxiety (MDs: 54.9% vs. 49.6%, controls: 25.5% vs. 14.3%), depression (MDs: 63.9% vs. 61.5%, controls: 29.9% vs. 21.2%) and insomnia (MDs: 66.0% vs. 57.8%, controls: 31.5% vs. 24.8%) compared to pre-COVID-19 period (all P-value < 0.001). Furthermore, adults with MDs had higher odds for developing COVID-19-related stress (OR = 3.41, 95% CI 2.49 ~ 4.67), worsened anxiety (OR = 1.95, 95% CI 1.38 ~ 2.76), depression (OR = 2.04, 95% CI 1.43 ~ 2.93) and insomnia (OR = 2.22, 95% CI 1.53 ~ 3.21) during the COVID-19 outbreak compared to controls. Moreover, higher COVID-19-related stress and lower levels of pre-COVID-19 anxiety, depressive and insomnia symptoms were predictors for worsened anxiety, depression and insomnia in adults with MDs, respectively.


Our findings suggest that adverse psychological reactions and insomnia are more pronounced in adults with mental health disorders during the COVID-19 outbreak, thus more attention need to be provided.

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