Introduction: COVID-19 is causing an enormous psychological burden for most people. This study aims to assess individual changes in mental health and health status before and after the COVID-19 outbreak, and to explore potential predictors of change.
Methods: A cross-sectional study in Germany (n = 15 037) were conducted. Demographics, depression and anxiety symptoms (PHQ-2, GAD-2), distress (DT), and health status (EQ-5D-3L) were assessed. Additionally, all instruments used were adapted to measure the participants' mental health and health status before the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19-related fear, trust in governmental actions to face COVID-19, and the subjective level of information about COVID-19 were examined.
Results: Overall, the participants showed a significant increase in depression and anxiety symptoms, and distress, while health status deteriorated since the COVID-19 outbreak. Impairment in mental health was predicted by COVID-19-related fear. Pre-existing mental illness predicted an increase in depression symptoms and a deterioration in health status. Trust in governmental actions and the subjective level of information predicted less increase in psychological burden.
Conclusions: Our data revealed that there have been changes in mental health and health status at an individual level since the outbreak of COVID-19. In order to maintain mental health, the observed predictors should be addressed.
Keywords: COVID-19; anxiety; changes in mental health; depression; mental health; predictors of change.