Older adults infected with COVID-19 may be twice as likely to develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety and suffer financial hardship, according to a study.
The research, recently published in the journal PNAS, used data from 5,146 adults between the ages of 52 and 74 to examine the immediate and long-term impact of COVID-19 on their mental health, well-being, and social and financial interactions. results.
Participants provided data before the pandemic (2018-19) and at two COVID-19 assessments in 2020.
The results showed that 49 percent of older adults with a probable COVID-19 infection had clinically significant depressive symptoms, compared to 22 percent of those without infection, between June and July 2020.
“There is currently little evidence on the impact that contracting COVID-19 infection can have on an individual’s mental health, personal finances and social relationships,” said study lead author Ellie Iob, of University College London ( UCL) in the UK. “However, our study shows that older adults with a probable COVID-19 infection experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety, poorer quality of life, greater feelings of loneliness, and greater financial difficulties compared to those without a probable infection. Yob said.
These problems were evident both in the acute phase of the infection and up to six months later, the researchers said.
The study also found that 12 percent of people with a probable infection had anxiety, compared to 6 percent of those without the viral infection.
These adverse effects lasted up to six months after the suspected start of the infection and appeared to worsen, the researchers said.
A follow-up evaluation between November and December 2020 estimated the prevalence of depression and anxiety among older people with probable infection to be 72% and 13%, respectively, compared to 33% and 7% in older adults. people without infection, they said. .
Such an increase in the prevalence of mental health problems during the first year of the pandemic could be due to additional months of COVID-19 control measures and restrictions on personal freedom. An estimated 40 percent of older people with probable COVID-19 infection experienced more financial hardship in June and July 2020 than before the pandemic, compared to 20 percent of people without infection.
Feelings of loneliness were also twice as high in older people with a probable COVID-19 infection than in those without, according to the researchers.
However, monetary concerns eased in November 2020, and no significant difference was found between those with probable COVID-19 infection and those without, they said.
“These results suggest that the adverse psychosocial impact of COVID-19 infection is long-lasting and more widely present in the population,” Iob said.
“We encourage anyone who may be experiencing issues with their mental health or well-being to speak to their GP,” he added.
The study authors acknowledged some limitations of their study.
Classification of probable infection was based on self-reported symptoms and not confirmed by a laboratory test, so not all participants classified as suspected cases of COVID-19 could have contracted the infection, the researchers said.
COVID-19 symptoms were also only determined in the first COVID-19 assessment in June-July 2020, and therefore the researchers were unable to determine the duration of symptoms and identify people with prolonged COVID, in those whose symptoms last more than 12 weeks. additional.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)