|Author||Yiheng, Tu1,2; Yuqi, Zhang2,3; Yu, Li4; Qing, Zhao1,2; Yanzhi, Bi1,2; Xuejing, Lu1,2; Yazhuo, Kong2,3; Li, Wang1,2; Zhijie, Lu5; Li, Hu1,2|
Previous coronavirus pandemics were associated elevated post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), but the self-report and neurological basis of PTSS in patients who survived coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are largely unknown. We conducted a two-session study to record PTSS in the COVID-19 survivors discharged from hospitals for a short (i.e., about 3 months, Session 1) to a medium period (i.e., about 6 months, Session 2), as well as brain imaging data in Session 2. The control groups were non-COVID- 19 locals. Session 1 was completed for 126 COVID-19 survivors and 126 controls. Session 2 was completed for 47 COVID-19 survivors and 43 controls. The total score of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) score was significantly higher in COVID-19 survivors compared with controls in both sessions. The PCL-5 score in COVID-19 survivors was positively correlated with the duration after discharge (r = 0.27, p = 0.003 for Session 1), and increased by 20% from Session 1 to Session 2 for the survivors who participated both sessions. The increase was positively correlated with individual’s test-retest duration (r = 0.46, p = 0.03). Brain structural volume and functional activity in bilateral hippocampus and amygdala were significantly larger in COVID-19 survivors compared with controls. However, the volumes of the left hippocampus and amygdala were negatively correlated with the PCL-5 score for the COVID-19 survivors. Our study suggests that COVID-19 survivors might face possible PTSS deteriorations, and highlights the importance of monitoring mental wellness of COVID-19 survivors.