Anxiety and Depression Association of America Annual Meeting

Anxiety and Depression Association of America Annual Meeting

Source:

Gruber J, et al. Tracking changes in positive affective disturbance among emerging adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented at: Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual conference; March 17-19; Denver, Colorado.

Disclosures: Gruber reports no relevant financial disclosures.
March 18, 2022
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Mental health of college students altered as COVID-19 pandemic continued

Source:

Gruber J, et al. Tracking changes in positive affective disturbance among emerging adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented at: Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual conference; March 17-19; Denver, Colorado.

Disclosures: Gruber reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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DENVER – Mental health of young adults showed little change at the outset of COVID-19, but appeared to worsen as the pandemic continued, according to a presentation at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual conference.

“We have observed impacts on [young] adults’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it underscores the need to examine changes over time to better understand distinct trajectories of adjustment during this unprecedented stressor,” June Gruber, PhD, an associate professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said during the presentation.

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Gruber and colleagues sought to examine the extent to which mental health of college students was affected across three separate timeframes: before the pandemic, in the initial period following pandemic onset, and 1 year after.

The multisite, longitudinal study included 794 participants (74% female; 46% white; 71% first year/freshmen) from five institutions from the United States and Canada. Participants were asked to complete a COVID-19 risk impact questionnaire regarding manner of disease exposure.

Depression, anxiety and mania were measured using DSM-5 criteria, while those symptoms, as well as life satisfaction, was gauged through a scale ranging from 0 to 4, with 4 being the highest.

Researchers contacted participants initially in the fall of 2019, and then again early in 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic, and students from two universities were canvassed in a follow-up during the fall of 2020.

Results showed that depression did not change (B = .00; P = .843) overall from T1 to T2, but slightly increased from T1 to T2 only among high COVID-19 risk participants (B = .10; P = .007).

Mania and anxiety also decreased overall from T1 to T2, while anxiety decreased only for low risk COVID-19 participants (B = .11; P = .003). Life satisfaction among participants showed no changes from T1 to T2, with no difference when moderated by COVID-19 risk.

During the follow-up period, researchers found that among students from the University of Colorado Boulder (n = 392) and the University of British Columbia (n = 79), depression worsened from T1 to T3, mania decreased, anxiety initially decreased from T1 to T2 then increased from T2 to T3, and life satisfaction decreased from T2 to T3.

“We know that affective health is multifaceted. We need to also remember that resilience happens,” Gruber said. “This is a call for all of us to join the public conversation towards normalizing and destigmatizing mental illness during COVID.”