The COVID-19 pandemic has affected mental health and social connections. Older people may be disproportionately affected, placing them at increased risk for complex mental ill-health outcomes and quality of life undermined by anxiety and depression. Understanding gender differences in the determinants of anxiety and depression symptoms is crucial to policy and practice. This study aims to examine gender-specific symptom subtypes (and subthreshold symptoms) in an older English population sampled during the COVID period, in relation to their socio-demographic, social, and health circumstances. The sample comprises all individuals aged 50 years or older and included in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing COVID-19 sub-study conducted during June-July 2020. Latent class analysis (LCA) defined indicative sample subgroups of clinically relevant anxiety and depression. Multinomial logistic regression assessed associations between socio-demographic characteristics, health and social care indicators, loneliness, and pre-pandemic mental ill-health. LCA derived three classes of self-reported depression and anxiety: for females (1) comorbid depression and anxiety (19.9% of the sample), (2) depression and subthreshold anxiety (31.6%), and (3) no or low symptoms of depression and anxiety (48.5%), and for males (1) comorbid depression and anxiety (12.8%), (2) subthreshold anxiety and depression (29.6%), and (3) no or low depression and anxiety (57.6%). Multinomial logistic regression analyses indicate that compared to those with low/no mental health symptoms, severity of pandemic-era mental ill-health was positively associated with pre-pandemic mental health levels, worry over finances, having access to essentials, loneliness, and access to health and social care services. Findings support the persistence of comorbidity of both depression and anxiety in the pandemic period. Results may inform government health strategy on interventions to prevent social isolation and mitigate the effects of the pandemic on deteriorating mental health in older people who may be more susceptible.
|Journal||International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction|
|Early online date||26 Apr 2022|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2022|