STUDY: Anxiety and depression in the Republic of Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic
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Description: Background: The COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of Ireland precipitated the temporary closure of all non-essential services and a nationwide quarantine as of March 27th, 2020. This study represents the first assessment of the mental health of the nation during the initial phase of the COVID-19 response, as part of a multi-wave investigation into the social, behavioural, and psychological impact of the pandemic. Aims: First, estimate prevalence rates of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and combined anxiety and depression, and identify risk factors associated with screening positive for anxiety/depression. Second, determine if COVID-19-related anxiety was highest amongst those identified with the greatest mortality risk from the virus. Method: Self-report data from a nationally representative Irish sample (N = 1,041) was collected online between March 31 and April 5; the first week of the Republic of Ireland’s nationwide quarantine measures. Results: A substantial proportion of people screened positive for depression (22.77%), generalized anxiety (20.00%), and anxiety/depression (27.67%). Screening positive for anxiety/depression was associated with younger age, female sex, loss of income due to COVID-19, COVID-19 infection, and higher perceived risk of COVID-19 infection. Citizens aged 65 and older reported significantly higher levels of COVID-19 anxiety than adults aged 18-34. Sex, underlying health conditions, and proximity to COVID-19 deaths were not associated with COVID-19 anxiety. Conclusions: Government responses to the current pandemic should ensure that measures protect not only the population’s physical health, but its mental health also, as an equally important component of health and wellbeing.