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The novel coronavirus pandemic 2019 (COVID-19) is posing new critical challenges in many areas of mental health worldwice, such as: 1) widespread social alarm, with an overall increase of anxiety states, somatic concerns, and mood sensitivity; 2) long-lasting physical distancing due to both the response to public health protection rules and also voluntary conduct. The interaction of such conditions sharply increases the risk of inducing or reinforcing some features of conduct disorders, such as behavioural addictions. To go in-depth into the psychosocial meaning of these conducts is quite timely and potentially urgent from a clinical point of view. Addictive conducts born or reinforced in a long-lasting self-distancing condition may grow over time and root themselves also in a future normalized situation. Some behavioural risks must be considered: a) increased time spent using Internet, with very frequent development of mild to severe forms of addiction, including a compulsive need to be in touch with other people, increased/addicted use of social media., anxiety reaction when not online, etc.) onset/increase of specific Internet-use profiles with high addictive risk, such as online gambling, gaming, shopping; most common forms of internet use may become problematic in distressed self-distancing conditions; c) increased time of physical exercise at home with compulsive features, in people with a previous profile of exercise addiction and also the lack of access to a specific sports addiction; d) possible influence on course and shaping of previously existent or newly induced features of mental disorders.
Digital Technologies for Psychological Intervention: The Use of Web-based Tools During COVID-19 Pandemic
Abstract BodyIntroduction: During the COVID-19 lockdown, digital technologies make it possible to maintain psychological counseling and therapy sessions. However, comparing with in-person sessions, such at-distance interventions might represent important differences regarding the therapeutic atmosphere and its effects.
Objectives: This study aimed at inspecting psychologists’ views and changes in practice related with the COVID-19 lockdown, namely regarding the use of digital technologies.
Methods: During the mandatory lockdown, 108 psychologists responded to an online survey that was sent via mailing lists, social networks and through the Portuguese Psychologists Association. The survey was developed for the purposes of this study.
Results: Many psychologists were able to maintain their sessions during the lockdown period by using web-based tools. However, they recognized the need for additional precautions in their at-distance practice, comparing to in-person interventions. Nevertheless, they considered the experience of using such technologies in clinical practice as positive. It ensured clients’ adherence with positive results. Psychologists with more years of experience maintained their sessions more, but professionals with an average number of years of experience displayed more favorable views regarding the use of web-based tools in counseling and therapy.
Conclusions: Future professional practice can be guided by the experiences that psychologists have gained during the lockdown period, namely toward improving and promoting the replication of the best at distance practices.
S0078 - The Impact of Physical Distancing on Body-image, Exercise and the Use of Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs
The current coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) is posing new critical challenges on mental health due to widespread social alarm as well as long lasting “physical distancing” as a result of public health protection measures or voluntary conduct. In a period of uncertainty, certain rewarding behaviors, such as the use of the Internet, exercise among other coping strategies might have increased considerably. We will share the results of an international cross-sectional investigation on the impact of physical-distancing on such potentially addictive behaviours to mitigate the pandemic effects, while identifying the most risky patterns and vulnerable populations. The studied sample consists of 3161 participants from Italy (41%), Spain (16%), the UK (12%), Lithuania (12%), Portugal (11%), Japan (6%), and Hungary (4%). Results are currently being analysied.
S0079 - Changes in Pornography Use and Sexual Behaviour During Lockdown
COVID-19 pandemic and the related restrictions had a significant impact on the living and working conditions as well as the everyday behavior and mental health condition. Aim of the current analysis was to examine the impact of the input-deprived circumstances on the sexual life characteristics. An online survey carried out after a few weeks of the first nation-wide lockdown was enacted in Hungary. 1,755 persons participated in the first wave (50.4% males). Relationship and sexual life satisfaction, sexual intercourse and masturbation frequency were assessed with additional single-item questions about the subjective change (5-pont Likert scale; 1=“decreased significantly”; 5=“increased significantly) in these characetristics since the epidemiological restrictions had been introduced. Furthermore, several potential protective and risk factors were measured (depressive symptoms, perceived stress, loneliness, general well being, intolerance of uncertainty, sensation seeking, and COVID-19 related health anxiety). Linear regression models were calculated to assess which of the former variables predict the subjective changes of one’s sexual life. The analyses resulted in weak standardized coefficients. The subjective change in relationship satisfaction (mean 3.20, SD 0.94) and sexual satisfaction (mean 2.82, SD 0.73) were predicted positively by general well-being (β=.11–0.25, p<.01), and negatively by loneliness (β=-.14-0.19, p<0.01). Loneliness predicted negatively the subjective change in sexual intercourses (mean 2.75, SD 0.89) and masturbation frequency (mean 2.89, SD 0.84) (β=- .10–.12, p<.01), while sensation seeking had no effect (β=-.09, p<.01). The COVID-19 related health anxiety predicted negatively only the change in sexual life frequency (β=-.07, p<.05). The explained variances were rather small (1.7%-11.8%).
S0080 - Internet Addiction and Mental Disorders: Clinical Effects by Self-distancing
We face today the huge and very rapid worldwide growth of behavioural issues related to the use of Internet. The definition of Problematic Internet Use (PIU) refers to new behavioural patterns that can potentially affect in variable degree, from mild to extremely severe, both individual and social wellbeing. PIU is strongly increasing in people affected by different forms of mental disorders and personality disorders, often inducing substantial changes in their clinical phenomenology, with consequent emergence of new symptom and course profiles. On the other side, PIU represents itself with growing frequency as a factor with high potential of inducing progressive psychological and behavioural impairment, with possible negative outcome on personal and psychosocial wellbeing and adjustment, also potentially leading to the development of new specific forms of psychopathology. Among PIU patterns, Internet Addiction (IA) plays a central role, due to its wide diffusion and behavioural as well as interpersonal and social consequences. The worldwide COVID 19 epidemics induced limitations in direct social relationships, such as social distancing, appear to lead to changes of patterns of IA, for an increase of time spent in addictive behaviour and a further reduction of research of interpersonal contacts. Obsessive-compulsive and autistic-like behaviour are differently reinforced by the combined effect of compulsory self distancing and general health concern, but also possibly induced in previously not affected subjects. Anxiety and mood reactivity also contributes to maladjustment profiles. Further evidences and new guide-lines are requested to face this novel and multifactorial social and clinical phenomenon.