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The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has contributed to over 500,000 deaths, and hospitalization of thousands of individuals worldwide. Cross-sectional data indicate that anxiety and depression levels are greater during the pandemic, yet no known prospective studies have tested this assertion. Further, individuals with elevated trait anxiety prior to a global pandemic may theoretically be more apt to experience greater pandemic-related anxiety and/or impairment. The current study tested whether anxiety and depression increased from the month before the state?s Stay-At-Home order to the period of the Stay-At-Home order among 120 young adults in Louisiana, a state with especially high rates of COVID-19 related infections and deaths. We also tested whether pre-pandemic social anxiety was related to greater pandemic related anxiety, depression, and COVID-related worry and impairment. Depression but not anxiety increased during the Stay-At-Home order. Further, pre-pandemic trait anxiety, social anxiety, and depression were statistically significant predictors of anxiety and depression during the Stay-At-Home order, although only social anxiety was robustly related to COVID-related worry and impairment. Emotional distress increased during the COVID-19 pandemic Stay-At-Home order and this is especially the case among individuals with pre-pandemic elevations in trait anxiety (especially social anxiety) and depression.

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Psychiatry Research