How severe the impact of Covid19 is on mental health? COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people around the world while also raising concerns of increased suicidal behaviour. Moreover, access to mental health services has been severely impeded, according to a scientific brief commissioned by the WHO.
As per the estimates, COVID-19 pandemic led to a 27.6% increase in cases of major depressive disorder and a 25.6% increase in cases of anxiety disorders
worldwide in 2020.
MDD and AD
Overall, the pandemic was estimated to have caused 137.1 additional disability-
adjusted life years per 100000 population for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 116.1 per 100 000 population for Anxiety Disorders (AD). The greatest increases in MDD and AD were found in places highly affected by COVID-19, as indicated by decreased human mobility and daily COVID-19 infection rates.
The analysis found that Women were more affected than men, and younger people, especially those aged 20–24 years, were more affected than older adults. Many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were also majorly affected.
In the general population, significant overall increase in mental health symptoms was seen during March-April 2020 compared with pre-pandemic measures. This declined over time and became non-significant by May-July 2020. Increases in symptoms of depression and mood disorders remained significant over time but those for anxiety did not. The analysis also notes a moderate symptom increase in the general population for depression and a small but significant increase in symptoms of anxiety.
The analysis says that there was a significant increase in mental health problems in the general population in the first year of the pandemic. Though data are mixed, younger age, female gender and pre-existing health conditions were often reported risk factors. Further research on mental health and COVID-19 among specific at-risk populations and in LMICs is needed, it said.
With respect to suicides, the analysis says that data on suicide mortality are mixed and do not clearly indicate a change in rates since the pandemic began.
the Data indicated higher risk of suicidal behaviors among young people and Exhaustion (in healthcare workers), loneliness and positive COVID-19 diagnosis increased risk for suicidal thought.
The analysis also points out that the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 was higher among people living with mental disorders. Among people living with mental disorders, illness severity and mortality increased with younger age and disorder severity. There is no consistent evidence that people living with mental disorders were more susceptible to COVID-19 infection, it said.
Another finding is that Outpatient mental health services were often disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, decreasing access to essential care. Moreover, they said that disruptions were in-part mitigated by shifting services towards e-mental health care. Inadequate infrastructure, pre-existing inequalities and low levels of technological literacy were reported e-health barriers, the analyusis said.