Fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic - should we prepare for a tsunami of post viral depression?

Ir J Psychol Med. 2020 Dec;37(4):295-300. doi: 10.1017/ipm.2020.40. Epub 2020 May 15.


The current COVID-19 pandemic is not just a medical and social tragedy, but within the threat of the outbreak looms the potential for a significant and persistent negative mental health impact, based on previous experience with other pandemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the earlier H1N1 outbreak of 1918. This piece will highlight the links between depression and viral illnesses and explore important overlaps with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, potentially implicating inflammatory mechanisms in those exposed to a range of viral agents. While containment of psychological distress currently focuses on social anxiety and quarantine measures, a second wave of psychological morbidity due to viral illness may be imminent.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; major depressive disorder; myalgic encephalomyelitis.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / virology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / epidemiology
  • Inflammation / virology
  • Pandemics
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / virology