COVID and Mental Illness

Antipsychotics and COVID

Our group has demonstrated that antipsychotic drugs may protect against both COVID-19 infection and its tendency towards clinical severity through a descriptive epidemiological study of a sample of 698 patients treated with antipsychotics. The study’s findings reflect a clinical reality in which there are few patients with severe COVID-19 illness, despite the presence of several risk factors. 

Complementary to this study, the group investigated the gene expression profile (an indicator of activated biological processes) of COVID-19 patients from the Wuhan cohort and patients on antipsychotic drug treatment (aripiprazole) from the PAFIP cohort, noting that many of the genes whose expression is altered by COVID-19 are significantly down-regulated by antipsychotic drugs. 

Antipsychotics were shown to reduce the activation of genes involved in many inflammatory and immune pathways associated with the severity of COVID-19 infection. These results could be of great significance as drug repositioning, i.e. existing drugs used for new therapeutic purposes, has been shown to be an interesting source of effective treatment for COVID-19 patients.


Crespo-Facorro B, Ruiz-Veguilla M, Vázquez-Bourgon J, et al. Aripiprazole as a Candidate Treatment of COVID-19 Identified Through Genomic Analysis. Front Pharmacol. 2021;12:646701. Published 2021 Mar 2. doi:10.3389/fphar.2021.646701

The role of antipsychotics against COVID-19: A topic for debate. Canal-Rivero, M, Catalán-Barragán, R, Rubio-García, A, Garrido-Torres, N, Crespo-Facorro, B, Ruiz-Veguilla, M Schizophrenia Research (2018),

Lower risk of SARS-CoV2 infection in individuals with severe mental disorders on antipsychotic treatment: A retrospective epidemiological study in a representative Spanish population. Canal-Rivero M, Catalán-Barragán R, Rubio-García A, Garrido-Torres N, Crespo-Facorro B, Ruiz-Veguilla M; IBIS Translational Psychiatry Group.Schizophr Res. 2021 Mar;229:53-54. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2021.02.002. Epub 2021 Feb 19. PMID: 33631466

Drug-drug interactions between COVID-19 treatments and antipsychotics drugs: integrated evidence from 4 databases and a systematic review. Plasencia-García BO, Rodríguez-Menéndez G, Rico-Rangel MI, Rubio-García A, Torelló-Iserte J, Crespo-Facorro B.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2021 Feb;238(2):329-340. doi: 10.1007/s00213-020-05716-4. Epub 2021 Jan 7.PMID: 33410987

Drug-drug Interactions between COVID-19 Treatments and Antidepressants, Mood Stabilizers/Anticonvulsants, and Benzodiazepines: Integrated Evidence from 3 Databases. Plasencia-García BO, Rico-Rangel MI, Rodríguez-Menéndez G, Rubio-García A, Torelló-Iserte J, Crespo-Facorro B.Pharmacopsychiatry. 2021 Jun 25. doi: 10.1055/a-1492-3293. Online ahead of print.PMID: 34171927

Acute Stress and COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, an impact on the mental health of patients and their families. In line with this, we intend to continue investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of health care workers. 

Short-term emotional impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Spaniard health workers. Rodriguez-Menéndez G, Rubio-García A, Conde-Alvarez P, Armesto-Luque L, Garrido-Torres N, Capitan Luis, Luque Asuncion, Ruiz-Veguilla M, Crespo-Facorro B. J Affect Disord. 2021 Jan 1;278:390-394. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.079. Epub 2020 Sep 24. PMID: 33007629; PMCID: PMC7834676.

Neurodevelopment and COVID: cohort of pregnant women and newborns

The SIGNATURE project will attempt to answer the following questions: (i) how is the inflammatory/immune status of newborns of COVID-19-infected mothers?; (ii) is there a relationship between the clinical features of maternal infection (severity/timing/… of infection) and the inflammatory status of the newborn?; (iii) could these alterations increase one’s vulnerability to developing alterations in the central nervous system at an early age, and at some point during adulthood?; (iv) XY placenta is more sensitive and XX placenta is relatively more resistant, is this the reason for observed gender differences in the prevalence of mental illnesses?; (v) is the infection associated with phenotypes obtained through clinical, neurological and neurodevelopmental evaluation?

More information about the signature project Signature at:

López-Díaz, Á., Ayesa-Arriola, R., Crespo-Facorro, B., & Ruiz-Veguilla, M. (2020). COVID-19 Infection During Pregnancy and Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Offspring: Time for Collaborative Research. Biological psychiatry, S0006-3223(20)31916-8. Advance online publication.

Brief Psychotic Disorder and COVID 

The COVID-19 pandemic has direct consequences on the mental health of the population. Fear of contagion, grief due to loss and separation from loved ones, home confinement, as well as the great socioeconomic uncertainty resulting from this crisis are causing an increase in the incidence of various mental illnesses, including stress-related psychotic disorders. Our group has noted the clinical and sociodemographic profile of patients with brief psychotic disorders (BPD) trigged by the psychosocial stress of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Valdés-Florido MJ, López-Díaz Á, Palermo-Zeballos FJ, Garrido-Torres N, Álvarez-Gil P, Martínez-Molina I, Martín-Gil VE, Ruiz-Ruiz E, Mota-Molina M, Algarín-Moriana MP, Guzmán-Del Castillo AH, Ruiz-Arcos Á, Gómez-Coronado R, Galiano-Rus S, Rosa-Ruiz A, Prados-Ojeda JL, Gutierrez-Rojas L, Crespo-Facorro B, Ruiz-Veguilla M. Clinical characterization of brief psychotic disorders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic: a multicenter observational study. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2021 Apr 3:1–11. doi: 10.1007/s00406-021-01256-w. PMID: 33811552; PMCID: PMC8019303.