COVID Stress Syndrome: Clinical and Nosological Considerations
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Purpose of reviewTo review the current state of knowledge on the newly proposed COVID Stress Syndrome.
Recent findingsThe syndrome consists of five inter-correlated elements: (a) fear of SARSCoV2 infection and fear of coming into contact with objects or surfaces contaminated with the coronavirus; (b) fear of socio-economic impacts of the pandemic; (c) fear of foreigners for fear that they are infected; (d) pandemic-related compulsive checking and reassurance-seeking; and (e) pandemic-related traumatic stress symptoms. A severe form of the syndrome, characterized by clinically significant distress and impairment in functioning, is the COVID Stress Disorder, which is regarded as a pandemic-related adjustment disorder. Several treatment options exist but further research is needed. Research during the COVID-19 pandemic has identified a pandemic-related adjustment disorder. The diagnosis of COVID Stress Syndrome should be made only after ruling out other disorders that could potentially account for the pattern of symptoms, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Further studies are needed to investigate the long-term course of the syndrome. Similar adjustment disorders may arise in future pandemics. Accordingly, understanding the COVID Stress Syndrome may facilitate efforts to understand and treat psychopathology in future pandemics.
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