London: Older adults infected with COVID-19 may be twice as likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, and suffer from financial difficulties, according to a study. The research, recently published in the journal PNAS, used data from 5,146 adults between the ages of 52 and 74 to examine the immediate and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on their mental health, well-being, social interactions, and financial outcomes. Participants provided data before the pandemic (2018-19) and at two COVID-19 assessments in 2020.
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The results showed that 49 per cent of older adults with a probable COVID-19 infection had clinically significant depressive symptoms, compared with 22 per cent of those without infection, between June and July 2020.
“There is currently little evidence on the impact that contracting COVID-19 infection may have on an individual’s mental health, personal finances, and social relationships,” said study lead author, Ellie Iob, from the University College London, (UCL) in the UK.
However, our study shows that older adults with probable COVID-19 infection experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety, poorer quality of life, elevated feelings of loneliness, and greater financial difficulties compared with those without probable infection, Ellie Iob said.
These issues were evident both in the acute phase of the infection and up to six months later, the researchers said.
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The study also found that 12 per cent of people with probable infection had anxiety, compared with 6 per cent of those without the viral infection.
These adverse effects lasted for up to six months after the presumed start of infection and appeared to worsen, the researchers said.
A follow-up assessment between November and December 2020 estimated that the prevalence of depression and anxiety among older people with probable infection was 72 per cent and 13 per cent respectively, compared with 33 per cent and 7 per cent in those without infection, they said.
Such increase in the prevalence of mental health problems during the first year of the pandemic might be due to further months of COVID-19 control measures and restrictions to personal freedom. An estimated 40 per cent of older people with probable COVID-19 infection experienced more financial difficulties in June and July 2020 than before the pandemic, compared with 20 per cent of those without infection.
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Feelings of loneliness were also twice as high in older people with probable COVID-19 infection than in those who didn’t get infected, according to the researchers.
However, monetary worries eased by November 2020 and no significant differences were found between those who had a probable COVID-19 infection and those who didn’t, they said.
These results suggest that the adverse psychosocial impact of COVID-19 infection is long-lasting and more broadly present across the population, Ellie Iob said.
“We encourage anyone who may be experiencing issues with their mental health or well-being to speak to their GP (doctor),” he added.
The authors of the study acknowledged some limitations to their study.
The classification of probable infection was based on self-reported symptoms and not confirmed by a laboratory test, so not all participants classified as suspected COVID-19 cases might have actually contracted the infection, the researchers said.
Symptoms of COVID-19 were also only ascertained at the first COVID-19 assessment in June-July 2020, and therefore researchers could not determine the duration of symptoms and identify people with long COVID, in which the symptoms last longer than 12 weeks, they added.
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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.