Examining Association of Personality Characteristics and Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Post-COVID Syndrome

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Background: We aimed to evaluate personality traits in patients with post-COVID syndrome, as well as the association with neuropsychiatric symptoms present in this disorder. Methods: The Big Five Structure Inventory was administered to 93 consecutive patients with a diagnosis of post-COVID syndrome as defined by the WHO and to demographically matched controls. We also performed a comprehensive evaluation of depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep quality, cognitive function, and olfactory function. Results: Patients with post-COVID syndrome scored lower for emotional stability, equanimity, positive mood, and self-control. Extraversion, emotional stability, and openness correlated negatively with anxiety and depression levels. Conscientiousness correlated negatively with anxiety. No statistically significant correlations were observed between personality traits and cognitive function, sleep quality, olfactory function, or fatigue. Personality scores explained 36.3% and 41% of the variance in scores on the anxiety and depression scales, respectively. Two personality profiles with lower levels of emotional stability were associated with depression and anxiety. Conclusions: Our study shows higher levels of neuroticism in patients with post-COVID syndrome. Personality traits were predictive of the presence of depression and anxiety, but not cognitive function, sleep quality, or fatigue, in the context of post-COVID syndrome. These findings may have implications for the detection of patients at risk of depression and anxiety in post-COVID syndrome, and for the development of preventive and therapeutic interventions.