Early indicators and risk factors associated with mental health problems during COVID-19 quarantine: Is there a relationship with the number of confirmed cases and deaths?

Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2021 Aug;67(5):567-575. doi: 10.1177/0020764020966020. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Background: On March 20 2020, the Argentine Ministry of Health enforced a mandatory quarantine throughout the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aims: The object of this study is to determine the initial impact on mental health of Argentine population, by measuring the prevalence of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and self-perceived stress and by determining the associated risk factors, and to analyze that impact in relation to the number of confirmed cases and deaths.

Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted through a digital questionnaire, which was completed by 1,985 respondents between March 29 and April 12. The prevalence of anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia was measured with the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale (GAD-7), the 9-Item Patients Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9); the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), respectively.

Results: The 62.4% of the surveyed population reported signs of psychological distress. It was found that being a woman, being 18 to 27 years old, living with family members or a partner, smoking, and having a poor sleep quality were the significant risk factors.

Conclusion: Despite the low number of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths at that time, a strong impact on mental health indicators was revealed. The authors of this study recommend the monitoring of the population at risk over time and early interventions in order to avoid long-lasting mental health problems.

Keywords: Anxiety; COVID-19; depression; quarantine; sleep; stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Argentina / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Quarantine / psychology*
  • Quarantine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Young Adult