According to a study, older adults infected with COVID-19 are twice as likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and financial problems.
The study, recently published in the journal PNAS, used data from 5,146 adults between the ages of 52 and 74 to assess the immediate and long-term impact of COVID-19 on their mental health, well-being and social interactions, and financial outcomes.
Participants provided data before the pandemic (2018-19) and in two COVID-19 assessments in 2020.
The results showed that 49 percent of older adults with probable COVID-19 infection had clinically significant depressive symptoms between June and July 2020, compared with 22 percent of those without infection.
“There is currently little evidence about the impact contracting a COVID-19 infection can have on a person’s mental health, personal finances and social relationships,” said lead author of the study, Ellie Iob, of University College London. (UCL) in the United States. UK. “However, our study shows that older adults with probable COVID-19 infection experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety, poorer quality of life, increased feelings of loneliness and greater financial difficulties compared to those without probable infection,” Iob 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 likely infection had anxiety, compared with 6 percent of those without the viral infection.
These side effects lasted for up to six months after the suspected onset of the infection and appeared to be getting worse, the researchers said.
A follow-up review between November and December 2020 estimated that the prevalence of depression and anxiety in older people with probable infection was 72 percent and 13 percent, respectively, compared with 33 percent and 7 percent in those without infection, they said. .
Such an increase in the prevalence of mental health problems during the first year of the pandemic may be due to further months of COVID-19 control measures and restrictions on personal freedom. An estimated 40 percent of elderly people with probable COVID-19 infection were in more financial distress in June and July 2020 than before the pandemic, compared with 20 percent of those without infection.
Feelings of loneliness were also twice as high in elderly people with probable COVID-19 infection as in those who did not become infected, according to the researchers.
However, by November 2020, monetary concerns eased and no significant differences were found between those who had probable COVID-19 infection and those who did not, they said.
“These results suggest that the adverse psychosocial impact of COVID-19 infection is long-lasting and more widespread across the population,” Iob said.
“We encourage anyone who may be having issues with their mental health or wellbeing to talk to their primary care physician (physician),” he added.
The study authors acknowledged some limitations of their study.
The classification of probable infection was based on self-reported symptoms and not confirmed by a lab test, so not all participants classified as suspected COVID-19 cases would have actually contracted the infection, the researchers said.
Symptoms of COVID-19 were also not identified until the first COVID-19 assessment in June-July 2020, which is why researchers were unable to determine the duration of symptoms and identify people with long-term COVID, where symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks, she added.
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