COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center

Disclosures: One study author reports various financial disclosures. The other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
February 22, 2021
2 min read

Almost half of individuals with COVID-19 may have moderate to severe depressive symptoms

Disclosures: One study author reports various financial disclosures. The other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Nearly half of individuals who have COVID-19 may exhibit moderate to severe depressive symptoms, according to results of a study conducted in Bangladesh and published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

“Previous studies have reported several factors that are associated with depression, including female sex, living in an urban area, reduced or no physical exercise, dissatisfaction with sleep, self-reported moderate/poor health status, smoking, the presence of COVID-19 symptoms and fear of COVID-19 re-infection,” Md. Saiful Islam, PhD, of the department of public health and informatics at Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh, and colleagues wrote. “A recent study has shown that 56.6% of 153 surveyed COVID-19 patients in Bangladesh reported depression. To date, no prior study has investigated self-medication, hospitalization, persistent or ongoing symptoms, and ensuing mental wellbeing in people who were infected with COVID-19 in Bangladesh.”

man with depression sitting on bench
Source: Adobe Stock

The investigators received cross-sectional survey data from 1,002 individuals who had been infected with COVID-19 whose ages ranged between 19 and 81 years. They collected data between Sept. 11, 2020, and Oct. 13, 2020, via a self-reported online questionnaire that featured questions regarding socio-demographics, lifestyle, COVID-19 symptoms during and beyond infection, over-the-counter or doctor-prescribed medication and depression assessed via the Patient Health Questionnaire.

The researchers reported moderate to severe depression among 48% of participants. Further, they noted positive association between depression during COVID-19 and lower family income, poor health status, sleep disturbance, lack of physical activity, hypertension, asthma/respiratory problems, fear of COVID-19 reinfection and persistent COVID-19 symptoms. A total of 24% of participants self-medicated via over-the-counter medicine upon first being diagnosed with COVID-19, with women more likely than men to do so. A total of 20% of participants reported having experienced persistent COVID-like symptoms after recovering from infection, with diarrhea (12.7%) and fatigue (11.5%) as the most common.

“Our findings suggest the need for health education programs and interventions (eg, depression screening) for people infected with COVID-19 in Bangladesh,” Islam and colleagues wrote. “The health care authority should be concerned about the individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 in terms of providing care to them and monitoring their health (including mental health) after their recovery from COVID-19. Virtual awareness programs should be considered with a view to mitigating self-medication practices without consultation.

“Individuals with persistent COVID-like symptoms should have consultations with healthcare professionals,” they added. “Mental health counseling through e-health may be one approach for treating depression among people during times of spatial distancing.”