TUESDAY, Oct. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There was an increase in the symptoms of depression and anxiety in the first two months of the pandemic and an association of worsening depression and anxiety with increasing case numbers, according to a review published online Oct. 18 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Georgia Salanti, Ph.D., from the University of Bern in Switzerland, and colleagues examined the trajectory of mental health symptoms during the first year of the pandemic in a systematic review and meta-analysis. Data were included from 43 studies with 331,628 participants.

The researchers found that across the studies, there was substantial variation in changes in symptoms of psychological distress, sleep disturbances, and mental well-being. In the first two months of the pandemic, symptoms of depression and anxiety worsened on average (standardized mean difference at 60 days, −0.39); thereafter, the trajectories were heterogenous. Linear associations were seen for worsening depression and anxiety with increasing numbers of reported cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection and increasing severity of governmental measures. These associations were not modified by gender, age, country, deprivation, inequalities, risk for bias, or study design.

“Our analysis indicates that during a global pandemic we should never lose sight of the negative consequences on mental health for the average population or the community, but also that some populations have completely different trajectories in mental health,” the authors write.

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