Publication date: Jun 24, 2023
It is unclear to what extent the prevalence of moderate and severe anxiety and depression symptoms (ADS) is higher during the first 20 months after the COVID-19 outbreak than before the outbreak. The same holds for persistent and chronic ADS among the adult general population and subgroups (such as employed, minorities, young adults, work disabled). Data were extracted from six surveys conducted with the Dutch longitudinal LISS panel, based on a traditional probability sample (N = 3493). Biographic characteristics and ADS (MHI-5 scores) were assessed in March-April 2019, November-December 2019, March-April 2020, November-December 2020, March-April 2021, and November-December 2021. Generalized estimating equations were conducted to examine differences in the prevalence of post-outbreak ADS, persistent and chronic ADS compared to the pre-outbreak prevalence in similar periods. The Benjamini-Hochberg correction for multiple testing was applied. Among the general population chronic moderate ADS increased significantly but slightly in the period March-April 2020 to March-April 2021 compared to a similar period before the pandemic (11. 9 % versus 10. 9 %, Odds Ratio = 1. 11). In the same period a somewhat larger significant increase in chronic moderate ADS was observed among 19-24 years old respondents (21. 4 % versus 16. 7 %, Odds Ratio = 1. 35). After the Benjamini-Hochberg correction several other differences were no longer significant. No other mental health problems were assessed. The Dutch general population and most of the assessed subgroups were relatively resilient given the limited increase or absence of increases in (persistent and chronic) ADS. However, young adults suffered from an increase of chronic ADS.