Covid-19 did not affect people’s mental health as much, says new study

In a 2022 survey published in PLOS One, researchers analyzed the Big 5 personality traits – agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness – and concluded that individuals became aggressive and mean. They attributed this to a result of the pandemic.

And researchers at the University of Oxford, in a paper published in The Lancet in 2020, showed how 18% of coronavirus patients developed mental illness – including depression, anxiety, dementia and insomnia – in 90 days or less.

What appears to be missing from McGill’s review is the effects of the pandemic among disadvantaged groups, as the article does not focus on low-income countries or children, youth and people with existing mental health issues.

Study summary:

goal Synthesize mental health outcomes in cohorts before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project Systematic review.

data sources Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang, medRxiv and Open Science Framework Preprints.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Studies comparing general mental health, anxiety symptoms, or depressive symptoms assessed on or after January 1, 2020 with outcomes collected from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019 in any population and comprising ≥90% of the same participants before and during the covid-19 pandemic or using statistical methods to account for missing data. Restricted maximum probability random effects meta-analyses (worst covid-19 outcomes representing positive change) were performed. The risk of bias was assessed using a checklist adapted from the Joanna Briggs Institute for Prevalence Studies.

Results As of April 11, 2022, 94,411 unique titles and abstracts, including 137 unique studies from 134 cohorts, have been reviewed. Most studies were from high-income (n=105, 77%) or upper-middle (n=28, 20%) countries. Among general population studies, no changes were found for general mental health (change in standardized mean difference (SMD) 0.11, 95% confidence interval -0.00 to 0.22) or anxiety symptoms (0. .05, -0.04 to 0.13), but symptoms of depression worsened minimally (0.12, 0.01 to 0.24). Among female or female participants, overall mental health (0.22, 0.08 to 0.35), anxiety symptoms (0.20, 0.12 to 0.29), and depression symptoms (0. .22, 0.05 to 0.40) worsened in minimal to small amounts. In 27 other analyzes in outcome domains across subgroups other than women or female participants, five analyzes suggested that symptoms worsened by minimal or small amounts and two suggested minimal or small improvements. No other subgroups experienced changes across all outcome domains. In three studies with data from March to April 2020 and late 2020, symptoms were unchanged from pre-COVID-19 levels in both assessments or increased initially and then returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Substantial heterogeneity and risk of bias were present in the analyses.

Covid-19 did not affect people’s mental health as much, says new study

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