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TUESDAY, Oct. 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Adults with psychosocial and health-related risk factors have an increased risk for experiencing moderate or severe depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Oct. 26 in JAMA Network Open.

Eleonora Iob, from University College London, and colleagues examined levels of severity of depressive symptoms over time among individuals at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. Depressive symptoms were measured on seven occasions from March 21 to April 2, 2020. The analytical sample included 51,417 adults; 33.3 percent were in the lowest socioeconomic position (SEP) quartile and 22.1 percent were classified as essential workers.

Three levels of depressive symptoms were identified: low, moderate, and severe (60, 29, and 11 percent, respectively). The researchers observed significant associations for experiences of physical or psychological abuse, preexisting mental health conditions, preexisting physical health conditions, low social support, and low SEP with severe depressive symptoms after adjustment for covariates (odds ratios, 13.16, 12.99, 3.41, 12.72, and 5.22, respectively). The likelihood of experiencing severe depressive symptoms was lower for participants with essential worker roles (odds ratio, 0.66). Similar patterns of associations were seen for participants with moderate depressive symptoms.

“These differential associations highlight the importance of developing strategies to identify at-risk individuals, reallocate mental health services to those in need, and provide evidence-based treatments to alleviate depressive symptoms,” the authors write.

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