COVID-19 Pandemic Mental Health Trajectories: Patterns From a Sample of Canadians Primarily Recruited From Alberta and Ontario

Catherine Lowe, Janine Keown-Gerrard, Cheuk F. Ng, Trevor H. Gilbert, Kharah M. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a highly contagious and novel virus that has prompted government officials to implement restrictive public health orders. It is hypothesized that pandemic-related restrictions may have a detrimental impact on mental health. Longitudinal data were collected through 13 assessments, repeated every 2 weeks for the initial 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were recruited through [Masked] University and social media. The final sample consisted of 280 adults from across Canada, with the majority of participants residing in Alberta (63%) and Ontario (20%). Sociodemographic characteristics, COVID-19 related risk factors, prepandemic and pandemic physical activity, and COVID-19 related risk factors were collected at study entry, and mental health (depressive symptoms, anxiety, and loneliness) were collected at each assessment. Multilevel modeling was used to identify mental health trajectories during the initial 6 months of the pandemic. Mental health symptoms tracked with rising cases of infection and subsequent public health restrictions during the pandemic. Specifically, anxiety and depressive symptoms demonstrated strong longitudinal quadratic trends. Both anxiety and depressive symptoms were high at study entry (May 2020) and decreased over the summer, followed by an increase in the fall and winter months. Loneliness was stable over the follow-up period. Age, sex, living alone, socioeconomic factors, and preexisting mental health conditions correlated with mental health symptoms during the pandemic’s initial 6 months. This study characterizes within-person changes to mental health (anxiety, depressive symptoms, and loneliness) in a Canadian sample from May 2020 to January 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-129
Number of pages17
JournalCanadian Journal of Behavioural Science
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan. 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • loneliness
  • mental health

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