Childhood Trauma, Functioning, and COVID-19 Related Worries in Bipolar Disorder

Julia Lebovitz, BA

Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Research Assistant

Scientific Abstract

Background: The impact of COVID-19 on bipolar disorder (BD) has been found to vary; while some research has reported heightened psychological distress in BD compared to healthy controls (HC), other research has indicated a relatively minimal impact of COVID-19 on BD (Karantonis et al., 2021; Van Rheenen et al., 2020). Research has found that individuals with childhood trauma reported a greater perceived COVID-19 risk (Kim et al., 2020). The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between 1) childhood trauma history and current COVID-19 related worries, and 2) current COVID-19 related worries and functioning.

Methods: 44 adults with BD and 32 HC adults completed self-report measures including the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), CoRonavIruS health and Impact Survey (CRISIS), WHO Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) and Social Adjustment Scale Self-Report (SAS-SR). Bivariate correlations by study group were used to determine the relationships between type of childhood trauma, COVID-19 related worries, and functioning.

Results: The BD sample reported higher mean levels of ‘COVID-19 Related Worries’ (12.56) than the HC sample (9.22). In the BD but not HC sample, physical abuse, physical neglect, and emotional abuse were correlated with increased ‘COVID-19 Related Worries’, but not general worries unrelated to COVID-19. ‘COVID-19 Related Worries’ score was correlated with all WHODAS domains, the SAS-SR ‘Family Outside Home’ subscale, and the SAS-SR total score for the complete sample.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that COVID-19 related worries may impact functioning in both BD individuals and HC. For individuals with BD, childhood trauma may alter perceptions of COVID-19. As the pandemic is ongoing, more information about factors, such as childhood trauma, that impact attitudes towards COVID-19 may help provide insight into how treatments may reduce worries and anxieties surrounding the pandemic.


Live Zoom Session – March 9th

research Areas


Julia Lebovitz, BA, Caitlin Millet, PhD, Megan Shanahan, MHS, Katherine Burdick, PhD

Principal Investigator

Katherine Burdick, PhD