Mental health of adults in Ireland during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic: Results from a nationally representative, longitudinal study

Philip Hyland, Frederique Vallieres, Orla McBride, Jamie Murphy, M Shevlin, Richard Bentall, Sarah Butter, Todd Hartman, Thanos Karatzias, Malcolm MacLachlan, Rebecca Maguire, Joanna McHugh Power, Eric Spikol, Michael Daly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Emerging evidence indicates that the mental health consequences of COVID-19 may not be as deleterious as initially feared. We analyzed the levels of symptom expression and rates of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and COVID-19 related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C19-PTSD) in the adult population of Ireland at different points during the first year of the pandemic.
Methods: Data were collected from a nationally representative sample of 1041 adults across five waves from March/April 2020 to March/April 2021. New participants were recruited at follow-up waves to maintain nationally representative cross-sectional estimates. Cross-sectional estimates of each and any disorder were calculated, and longitudinal changes in means and prevalence estimates of MDD, GAD, and C19-PTSD were assessed using structural equation modelling.
Results: Cross-sectional estimates of meeting criteria for MDD, GAD, or C19-PTSD were 34.7% in March/April 2020 (Wave 1) and 33.7% in March/April 2021 (Wave 5). Longitudinal analyses revealed no significant change in symptoms of MDD, a significant decrease in GAD symptoms, and a significant increase in C19-PTSD symptoms. There were significant decreases in prevalence estimates of MDD (by 4.9%) and GAD (by 6.3%), and no significant change in C19-PTSD. Overall, 4.7% fewer people met criteria for any disorder at Wave 5 than at Wave 1.
Conclusion: There was no evidence of an increase in mental health problems in the adult population during the first year of the pandemic in Ireland. Analyses of longitudinal data indicated a small but significant decrease in the proportion of people suffering from a mental health disorder.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • covid-19
  • mental health
  • longitudinal survey

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