Anxiety and depression symptoms, and lack of emotional support among the general population before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. A prospective national study on prevalence and risk factors

P.G. van der Velden*, Carlo Contino, J.W.M. Das, Peter van Loon, M.W.G. Bosmans

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    Abstract

    Background
    The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and emotional support among the general population are unclear. We therefore assessed if the prevalence of high Anxiety and Depression Symptoms (ADS) levels and lack of Emotional Support (ES) increased, and if risk factors of ADS and ES changed.

    Methods
    Data was extracted from surveys conducted with the Dutch longitudinal population-based LISS panel (N = 3,983). ADS and ES were assessed in March 2019 and 2020. Risk factors for ADS and ES were extracted from surveys in November 2018 and 2019. These were: ADS, gender, education, domestic situation, employment, age, ethnicity, lung and heart problems, and diabetes.

    Results
    The prevalence of high ADS levels and lack of ES did not increase compared to the pre-outbreak prevalence. ADS, non-native ethnic background, (partial) work disabilities and lung problems were predictive of both ADS and lack of ES in March 2019 and 2020. Job seekers, students and those who take care of housekeeping were more at risk for ADS in March 2020, but not in 2019. While 35–49 years old respondents were less at risk for ADS in March 2019, they were more at risk in 2020. Parents with child(ren) at home and those who take care of housekeeping more often lacked ES in March 2020, but not in 2019.

    Limitations
    No other mental health problems were assessed.

    Conclusions
    No increase in the prevalence of ADS and lack of ES was found. Some risk factors remained significant after the outbreak, while others changed notably.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)540-548
    JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
    Volume277
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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