Depressive symptoms among survivors of Ebola virus disease in Conakry (Guinea): preliminary results of the PostEboGui cohort

BMC Psychiatry. 2017 Apr 4;17(1):127. doi: 10.1186/s12888-017-1280-8.


Background: The 2013-2016 West African Ebola outbreak infected 28,616 people and caused 11,310 deaths by 11 May 2016, across six countries. The outbreak has also resulted in the largest number of EVD survivors in history-over 17,000. Guinea was declared Ebola-free on 1 June 2016. Reports from the outbreak documented 3814 cases resulting in 2544 deaths and 1270 survivors. EVD survivors face various neuropsychological and psycho-affective alterations that have not been fully identified yet. This study aims to document the depressive symptoms among adult survivors in Guinea.

Methods: Depressive symptoms were investigated using the French version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) administered to all adult survivors (≥ 20 years) participating in the PostEboGui study and receiving care in Conakry. The study was combined with a clinical consultation by a psychiatrist at the Donka National Hospital in Conakry that ensured adapted care was provided when needed.

Results: Overall, 256 adult participants receiving care in Conakry participated in this study: 55% were women, median age 31 years [IQR: 26-40]. The median time since the Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) discharge was 8.1 months [IQR: 4.1-11.7]. 15% had a score above the threshold values indicating psychological suffering (15% for men and 14% for women). 33 people (16 women and 17 men) met with the psychiatrist, which resulted in the diagnosis of 3 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 3 cases of mild depression, 13 cases of moderate depression, and 11 cases of severe depression, including 1 with kinesthetic hallucinations and another with visual hallucinations, and 1 with suicidal ideation and 3 with attempted suicide. Severe depression was diagnosed between 1 and 19 months after ETC discharge. The various identified forms of depression responded favorably to conventional drug therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Conclusion: Long-term follow-up for EVD survivors will be necessary to understand the evolution of these pathologies. In the current post-epidemic context, these cases underscore the need to strengthen mental health diagnostic systems and treatment on a national scale.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Guinea / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / complications
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology*