A study by a leading private hospital in Delhi has found that there has been a rise in cases of anxiety and depression among people during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the lockdown period following its first wave.
The web-based cross-sectional study was conducted by the department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Max Hospital, Saket, during the first wave of the pandemic, a spokesperson of the hospital said.
The online survey was conducted to assess the awareness, anxiety and depression symptoms among people in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to the situation prior to it, hospital authorities said.
A total of 1,211 responses were recorded out of which 1,069 responses were included in the analysis, according to the study published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems, they said.
The study stated that 44.6 per cent of them met the criteria for mild anxiety, 30.1 per cent for moderate anxiety and 25.3 per cent for severe anxiety.
Also, 26.1 per cent of them met the criteria for mild depression, 16.7 per cent for moderate depression, and 3.8 per cent for severe depression, it said.
“Data was collected via a self-report questionnaire for a period of four weeks during the nationwide lockdown. Participants were residents of India, with minimum 10 years of education, with basic knowledge of English language and were of the age of 18 years and above,” the study said.
Participants with any existing or previous history of any major psychiatric illness were excluded from the analysis, doctors said.
The study was conducted using a web-based survey that was circulated to the general population. The survey was broadcast on the internet through email and public platforms of social media and messaging applications such as WhatsApp, hospital authorities said.
“There’s a definite rise in the cases of anxiety and depression seen across the population in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly after the second wave as compared to the first wave. I have seen many people coming to terms with grief, having lost their family members followed by depression and significant anxiety,” said Dr Sameer Malhotra, director and head, department of mental health and behavioural sciences at the hospital.
“As per a study we conducted last year on a sample size of 1,069 individuals of the general population during the first wave of COVID, we found that 55 per cent of those who took part in it, had significant anxiety symptoms and more than one-fourth of them were experiencing depressive symptoms,” he added.