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Ann Intern Med ; 175(11): 1560-1571, 2022 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2080841


BACKGROUND: To what extent the COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures influenced mental health in the general population is still unclear. PURPOSE: To assess the trajectory of mental health symptoms during the first year of the pandemic and examine dose-response relations with characteristics of the pandemic and its containment. DATA SOURCES: Relevant articles were identified from the living evidence database of the COVID-19 Open Access Project, which indexes COVID-19-related publications from MEDLINE via PubMed, Embase via Ovid, and PsycInfo. Preprint publications were not considered. STUDY SELECTION: Longitudinal studies that reported data on the general population's mental health using validated scales and that were published before 31 March 2021 were eligible. DATA EXTRACTION: An international crowd of 109 trained reviewers screened references and extracted study characteristics, participant characteristics, and symptom scores at each timepoint. Data were also included for the following country-specific variables: days since the first case of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the stringency of governmental containment measures, and the cumulative numbers of cases and deaths. DATA SYNTHESIS: In a total of 43 studies (331 628 participants), changes in symptoms of psychological distress, sleep disturbances, and mental well-being varied substantially across studies. On average, depression and anxiety symptoms worsened in the first 2 months of the pandemic (standardized mean difference at 60 days, -0.39 [95% credible interval, -0.76 to -0.03]); thereafter, the trajectories were heterogeneous. There was a linear association of worsening depression and anxiety with increasing numbers of reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection and increasing stringency in governmental measures. Gender, age, country, deprivation, inequalities, risk of bias, and study design did not modify these associations. LIMITATIONS: The certainty of the evidence was low because of the high risk of bias in included studies and the large amount of heterogeneity. Stringency measures and surges in cases were strongly correlated and changed over time. The observed associations should not be interpreted as causal relationships. CONCLUSION: Although an initial increase in average symptoms of depression and anxiety and an association between higher numbers of reported cases and more stringent measures were found, changes in mental health symptoms varied substantially across studies after the first 2 months of the pandemic. This suggests that different populations responded differently to the psychological stress generated by the pandemic and its containment measures. PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: Swiss National Science Foundation. (PROSPERO: CRD42020180049).

COVID-19 , Humans , Anxiety/epidemiology , Anxiety/psychology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Depression/psychology , Mental Health , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci ; 31: e43, 2022 Jun 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1890080


AIMS: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and ensuing restrictions have negatively affected the mental health and well-being of the general population, and there is increasing evidence suggesting that lockdowns have led to a disruption of health services. In March 2020, South Africa introduced a lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, entailing the suspension of all non-essential activities and a complete ban of tobacco and alcohol sales. We studied the effect of the lockdown on mental health care utilisation rates in private-sector care in South Africa. METHODS: We conducted an interrupted time-series analysis using insurance claims from 1 January 2017 to 1 June 2020 of beneficiaries 18 years or older from a large private sector medical insurance scheme. We calculated weekly outpatient consultation and hospital admission rates for organic mental disorders, substance use disorders, serious mental disorders, depression, anxiety, other mental disorders, any mental disorder and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. We calculated adjusted odds ratios (OR) for the effect of the lockdown on weekly outpatient consultation and hospital admission rates and the weekly change in rates during the lockdown until 1 June 2020. RESULTS: 710 367 persons were followed up for a median of 153 weeks. Hospital admission rates (OR 0.38; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.33-0.44) and outpatient consultation rates (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.63-0.87) for any mental disorder decreased substantially after the introduction of the lockdown and did not recover to pre-lockdown levels by 1 June 2020. Health care utilisation rates for alcohol withdrawal syndrome doubled after the introduction of the lockdown, but the statistical uncertainty around the estimates was large (OR 2.24; 95% CI 0.69-7.24). CONCLUSIONS: Mental health care utilisation rates for inpatient and outpatient services decreased substantially after the introduction of the lockdown. Hospital admissions and outpatient consultations for alcohol withdrawal syndrome increased after the introduction of the lockdown, but statistical uncertainty precludes strong conclusions about a potential unintended effect of the alcohol sales ban. Governments should integrate strategies for ensuring access and continuity of essential mental health services during lockdowns in pandemic preparedness planning.

Alcoholism , COVID-19 , Substance Withdrawal Syndrome , Alcoholism/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Mental Health , Pandemics , South Africa/epidemiology , Substance Withdrawal Syndrome/epidemiology