Depressive symptoms emerge under COVID-19 lockdown
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and associated lockdowns worsen depressive symptoms, a recent Italy study has found.
“For the first time to our knowledge, we assessed the psychological impact of COVID-19 on 6,700 Italian individuals, representative of the Italian population in terms of age, gender, and geographical areas,” said the researchers, noting that previous studies enrolled respondents through social media channels, which could have introduced bias.
In the present study, in contrast, the sample was designed in consideration of several age groups, sex, geographical location, and education. Surveys were administered via computer-assisted telephone or web interviews. The main tool employed was the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ).
In the overall sample, the mean SMFQ score was 5.18±5.21. When a score of 12 was set as the threshold for the presence of depressive symptoms, 14.41±14.83 percent of the participants fell above this cut-off in June 2020.
Scores were higher for young adults aged 16–24 years than in adults aged ≥25 years (7.04±7.08 vs 4.97±5.00), as was the percentage of participants with potential depressive symptoms (13.33±13.68 percent vs 4.97±5.00 percent).
Subsequent model analysis found that women, those who were unemployed or laid off from their jobs, respondents who were living alone, and people of lower socioeconomic standing were also more vulnerable to depressive symptoms.
In further studies, the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on mental health should be investigated. There should also be efforts to compare the experiences of different countries. Authorities and professionals should closely monitor the overall mental health burden to avoid a second pandemic of psychological distress.