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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 101-102

Psychosomatic diseases and COVID-19

Department of Cardiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China

Date of Submission10-Sep-2021
Date of Acceptance02-Nov-2021
Date of Web Publication30-Nov-2021

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Jian-An Wang
Department of Cardiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/hm.hm_70_21

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How to cite this article:
Wang JA. Psychosomatic diseases and COVID-19. Heart Mind 2021;5:101-2

How to cite this URL:
Wang JA. Psychosomatic diseases and COVID-19. Heart Mind [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 9];5:101-2. Available from: http://www.heartmindjournal.org/text.asp?2021/5/4/101/331570

As COVID-19 continues to circulate, laboratory and clinical research has persevered increasingly in the field of mental health, where theories concerning the complex and intriguing interactions of heart and mind show great potential for scientific research. The purpose of this Issue is to draw more attention to the relationship between COVID-19 and mental health, focusing on the psychophysiological changes observed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and their impact on human wellbeing.

This issue is a testament to the many scientific achievements in research on psychophysiologically-related disorders and therapies in 2021. It consists of six original articles, two invited commentaries, a case report and a letter to the Editor.

Cawthorpe conducts a study entitled “A comparative epidemiology model for understanding mental morbidity and planning health system response to the COVID-19 pandemic”. He searched COVID-19 literature and past influenza-related publications. His study presents that those with pre-influenza mental disorder (MD) were at greater risk for viral infection, while the post viral infection MD rate was not higher compared to the MD per capita rate before viral infection. Moreover, the paper highlights that examining mental problems in terms of their intimate life-span relationship to biomedical and biophysical disorders helps to illustrate an integrated system of care approach.

Emami et al. suggest in their paper “Somatic versus cognitive depressive symptoms as predictors of coronary artery disease among women with suspected ischemia: The Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation” that somatic depressive symptoms can be a predictor of an increased risk of obstructive coronary artery disease. Their study's results suggest there should be a focus on the somatic in addition to cognitive depressive symptoms in clinical care of coronary artery disease. The clinical significance being that paying attention to these factors can help cardiovascular clinicians provide early prevention, diagnosis and intervention to the female population so identified.

The paper “Unpredictable chronic mild stress-induced depressive-like behaviors in spontaneously hypertensive rats” explores the relationship between chronic mild stress and depressive-like behaviors. They found Guan-Xin-Shu-Tong capsule treatment exhibits effective relief of depressive-like behaviors in spontaneously hypertensive rats without influencing their blood pressure. This study provides evidence of safety and efficacy in the use of traditional Chinese medicine in treatment of psychosomatic symptoms in an animal model.

The increased occurrence of psychological problems during the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying challenges to provision of prompt treatment urges us to seek options to optimize interventions. Telehealth treatment and psychotherapy methods, such as IPT, provide new concepts to strengthen support for our hearts and minds during this COVID-19 crisis.

The paper “Patient perspective on telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic at the cardiology outpatient clinic: data from a qualitative study” describes the value of using telehealth services in cardiovascular disease. In this paper, Habibović et al. report on the experiences and needs of cardiac patients, and give recommendations regarding telehealth use in clinical practice. Maybe a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is the required upscaling of telemedicine. The accumulated experience has given us a foundation to further increase the use of telehealth in the clinical practice.

The paper “Using a quality improvement project to enhance the standard vaccination rate for long-term patients in mental health services in Qatar” by Elbakary et al. highlights how high vaccination rates over a 12-month period can serve as indicators for the success of intervention. These results might be useful to hospitals considering implementation of vaccination or to those currently struggling to dismantle implementation barriers.

The significance of the role of psychotherapy in treatment of mental illness cannot be overstated. In an effort to promote Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Zheng and his colleagues present in their paper, “Interpersonal psychotherapy knowledge dissemination in China”, a detailed strategic plan indicating how to disseminate IPT knowledge. The progress they have made in the past few years testifies to the effectiveness of the proposed plan. The feedback from lecture and workshop trainees has shown the applicability of IPT within the Chinese population and the suggestions for cultural adaptation provide very important information for therapists to consider when implementing IPT in China. While there are still some challenges facing the further development of IPT in China, the plan presented and the evidence collected in this article show great promise supporting the use of evidence based interpersonal psychotherapy in mental health practice in China.

Amongst the highlights of this issue are the two invited commentaries by Dr. Weissman and Dr. Swartz. The two commentaries refer to Zheng's IPT article which was accepted following an accelerated review. These contents seek to emphasize the importance of evidence-based psychotherapy during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and to encourage more future submission of psychotherapy related articles to the journal.

Both commentaries emphasize the value of empirical research and the clinical importance of IPT in this challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commentary by Dr. Weissman entitled “Interpersonal psychotherapy reaches out” gives a clear vision of IPT as a useful tool in cardiac and mental health. As one of the original founders of IPT, she emphasizes the association of close social relationships with a decrease in morbidity and mortality for a variety of medical conditions, and calls for increased use of IPT in practice during the pandemic. Dr. Swartz gives a commentary on the “Importance and application of interpersonal psychotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic”. This article introduces the history and characteristics of IPT, and puts forward the prospects for IPT applicability in China, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper by Perez et al., entitled “A case report: Steroid-induced mania in the context of COVID-19: The compounding impact of treatment on mental health” reports a case of a manic episode with psychotic features induced by dexamethasone administered as part of COVID-19 treatment. This case report communicates a very important message to all clinicians fighting on the frontline during the pandemic: psychiatric illness can be triggered or directly caused by COVID treatment itself. Although steroid-induced mania and psychosis are not an unusual clinical presentation, this case report has a unique timely significance in the context of COVID pandemic. As this public health crisis wears on, many severe cases may still require steroid treatment to lessen the organ inflammatory process. While many studies focus on psychosocial factors such as isolation and job loss, this article alerts us to another important contributor to increased mental health problems: COVID-19 treatment. It is every clinician's responsibility to provide better education to patients of the risks of idiopathic psychiatric conditions.

Following this line of investigation regarding mental health in relation to COVID-19, Marano et al. suggest in the paper “Body and mind: two maps but one territory. Mental coaching in support of somatic correlates in times of COVID-19” that sensitive listening to somatic communication through a mental coaching intervention represents an active and constructive path to develop strategies to cope with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Taking this approach, the chronic establishment of the discomfort is avoided, and the quality of life and the state of well-being of the person are improved.

All these interesting papers capture the resilience of science in advancing the therapeutic options available in both cardiac and mental health. We hope this Issue will encourage further evidence-based studies that will enable us to move forward in a rigorous, scientific, and positive way by promoting the clinical application of psychology and the results of behavioral investigations.

This article has been cited by
1 Abordaje holístico de las secuelas por COVID-19
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Revista de Psiquiatría y Salud Mental. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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