Levels and predictors of anxiety, depression and health anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic in Turkish society: The importance of gender

Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2020 Aug;66(5):504-511. doi: 10.1177/0020764020927051. Epub 2020 May 8.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is having negative effects on societies' mental health. Both the pandemic and the measures taken to combat it can affect individuals' mental health.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the levels of depression, anxiety and health anxiety in Turkish society during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to examine the factors affecting these.

Method: The study was performed using an online questionnaire. Participants were asked to complete a sociodemographic data form, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Health Anxiety Inventory (HAI). The effects on depression, anxiety and health anxiety levels of factors such as age, sex, marital status, living with an individual aged above 60, the presence of a new Coronavirus+ patient among friends or relatives, previous and current psychiatric illness and presence of accompanying chronic disease were then investigated.

Results: In terms of HADS cut-off points, 23.6% (n = 81) of the population scored above the depression cut-off point, and 45.1% (n = 155) scored above the cut-off point for anxiety. In regression analysis, female gender, living in urban areas and previous psychiatric illness history were found as risk factors for anxiety; living in urban areas was found as risk factor for depression; and female gender, accompanying chronic disease and previous psychiatric history were found as risk factors for health anxiety.

Conclusion: The results of this cross-sectional study suggest that the groups most psychologically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are women, individuals with previous psychiatric illness, individuals living in urban areas and those with an accompanying chronic disease. Priority might therefore be attached to these in future psychiatric planning.

Keywords: COVID-19; Health anxiety; anxiety; depression.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety* / diagnosis
  • Anxiety* / epidemiology
  • Anxiety* / physiopathology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Depression* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Urban Population