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Vol 20, No 3 (2023)
Research paper
Published online: 2023-10-10
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Trends in the subjective mental state of psychologists during the 5 waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland. A prospective study

Marlena Sokół-Szawłowska1, Paweł Mierzejewski2
Psychiatria 2023;20(3):117-124.

Abstract

Introduction: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the social and medical role of psychologists has become to help societies adapt to unexpected and sudden life changes. The need to switch from personal to remote contacts in the work environment, combining professional duties with private life and the growing number of psychopathological symptoms in patients became a source of overload, the level of which was compared in studies even to doctors treating COVID-19. The aim is to analyze the subjective mental state of the surveyed psychologists in 5 waves of the pandemic in Poland.

Material and methods: Data was collected for 5 waves of the pandemic in Poland. The online questionnaire was placed on the website of the Polish Psychiatric Association, and the number of respondents was decreasing (I — 341, II — 123, III — 118, IV — 67, V — 61). On the basis of the obtained data, trends in subjective mental state were studied.

Results: A study in a group of psychologists showed a trend of increasing subjective stress, depressed mood and lowered energy levels after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to the highest levels in the third wave. Subsequently, the trend in these areas decreased. Stress and depressed mood accompanied the respondents at a disturbingly high level also in 5th wave. Deterioration of various aspects of sleep and an increase in the tendency to psychogenic overeating took place during the periods of greatest stress during successive waves with a clear tendency to withdraw after the third wave of SARS-CoV-2.

Conclusions: The subjective mental state of psychologists was deteriorating depending on the increase in the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Poland until the third wave. Then it improved, although in the 5th wave, high percentages in the area of stress and depressed mood were still worrying, and hence it was close to professional burnout. Further research is needed.

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