Anxiety, depression decreased in Wuhan after COVID-19 lockdown eased
Rates of anxiety and depression decreased among the general public and health workers of Wuhan, China, after the COVID-19 lockdown was eased, according to study results published in PLOS One.
“Disasters resulting in widespread injury, life lose, income decrease and health problems usually have [a long-term] impact on psychological states,” Peixin Lu, of the School of Information Management at Wuhan University, and colleagues wrote. “Literature suggests that the unfamiliarity and uncontrollability of associated risks is related to higher susceptibility of PTSD. Previous studies have reported the SARS-related PTSD symptoms in [health care workers] and survivors in Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.”
Results of studies conducted in China showed poor mental health was common in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, but no study has assessed the psychological states of individuals living in Wuhan since the province eased lockdown 2 months ago.
To address this research gap, Lu and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional online study among 1,417 Wuhan citizens, of whom 27% were frontline health care workers and 73% were residents from the general public. They evaluated COVID-19 psychological status using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item and the PTSD Checklist Civilian Version.
The researchers found that 16.1%, 22.3% and 17.2% of health care workers and 21.2%, 16.7% and 17.2% of the general public had symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD, respectively, ranging from moderate to severe. These results marked a decrease in the proportion of anxiety and depression among the general public and health workers after the easing of the lockdown vs. earlier in the pandemic. Further, anxiety levels did not differ significantly between health care workers and the general public. Decreased income and frequent social media exposure served as risk factors for the general public.
“In the future, it is recommended that the government of Wuhan should develop and promote more follow-up psychological interventions, especially for the vulnerable population,” Lu and colleagues wrote. “It is also important to stimulate consumption, increase employment and increase people’s income. Finally, our findings can also be used as a reference for public health in other cities with severe COVID-19 outbreak.”