COVID-19 increased the risk of depression and anxiety in the elderly

Scientists at University College London in the UK have found that adults over 52 who have recovered from COVID-19 are twice as likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and increased anxiety. The article of the authors of the work was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The researchers analyzed data from 5,146 adults aged 52 to 74 who participated in a long-term aging study. The results of the June-July 2020 survey showed that 49 percent of older people likely to have had COVID-19 infection had clinical symptoms of depression, while 22 percent of people without infection had such symptoms.

Symptoms lasted up to six months after the suspected onset of infection and worsened as a second assessment conducted between November and December 2020 found that the incidence of depression and anxiety among older people with probable infection was 72 and 13 percent, respectively, compared to 33 and 7 percent in those without infection. This was accompanied by a deterioration in the quality of life, an exacerbated sense of loneliness and financial difficulties.

The authors note several shortcomings of the work. Thus, the main criterion for the likely infection with COVID-19 was the symptoms reported by the participants themselves, which was not confirmed by a laboratory test. Therefore, not all volunteers whose condition was classified as a possible case of coronavirus infection could actually become infected. Also, scientists did not determine the duration of the symptoms themselves.