Has the COVID-19 pandemic caused changes in mental health symptoms of individuals?

Bottom Line:

This study sampled over 55,000 individuals and found an overall increase in mental health symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and acute stress in people either directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19.


Shi, L. et al. Prevalence of and Risk Factors Associated With Mental Health Symptoms Among the General Population in China During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic. JAMA Network Open (2020). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.14053

Date Published:

1 July 2020


This study looked at over 55,000 individuals in China to uncover the prevalence of mental health symptoms relating to insomnia, depression, anxiety as well as acute stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through distributed questionnaires, the researchers found that, at the time of the study, the general prevalence of depression was 27.9%, anxiety was 31.6%, insomnia was 29.2% and acute stress was 24.4%. Patients with COVID-19, families/friends of patients with COVID-19, frontline workers, and family/friends of frontline workers had an increased risk for all four of these mental health symptoms. Similar trends were also seen for residents of China’s Hubei province, those who had not yet returned back to work, people in close contact with others with the virus, individuals under centralized and home quarantine, and several other groups. Statistical analysis showed that those with either suspected or confirmed COVID-19 were, at a minimum, twice as likely to have these symptoms. These results indicate the mental health risks associated with the widespread nature of the coronavirus 2019 pandemic, and the need for widespread support for individuals directly and indirectly affected by the virus.

Summary by: Max Solish