Is Fear of COVID-19 Contagious? The Effects of Emotion Contagion and Social Media Use on Anxiety in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
ABSTRACT: The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become a global pandemic, causing substantial anxiety. One potential factor in the spread of anxiety in response to a pandemic threat is emotion contagion, the finding that emotional experiences can be socially spread through conscious and unconscious pathways. Some individuals are more susceptible to social contagion effects and may be more likely to experience anxiety and other mental health symptoms in response to a pandemic threat. Therefore, we studied the relationship between emotion contagion and mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. We administered the Emotion Contagion Scale (ESC) along with a measure of anxiety in response to COVID-19 (modified from a previous scale designed to quantify fear of the Swine Flu outbreak) and secondary outcome measures of depression, anxiety, stress, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. These measures were completed by a large (n = 603) student sample in the United States. Data were collected in the months of April and May of 2020 when the fear of COVID-19 was widespread. Results revealed that greater susceptibility to emotion contagion was associated with greater concern about the spread of COVID-19, more depression, anxiety, stress, and OCD symptoms. Consumption of media about COVID-19 also predicted anxiety about COVID-19, though results were not moderated by emotion contagion. However, emotion contagion did moderate the relationship between COVID-19-related media consumption and elevated OCD symptoms. Although limited by a cross-sectional design that precludes causal inferences, the present results highlight the need for study of how illness fears may be transmitted socially during a pandemic.
Project description:PURPOSE:Reducing the spread of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted recommendations for individuals to socially distance. Little is known about the extent to which youth are socially distancing, what motivations underlie their social distancing, and how these motivations are connected with amount of social distancing, mental health, and social health. Using a large sample of adolescents from across the United States, this study examined adolescents' motivations for social distancing, their engagement in social distancing, and their mental and social health. METHODS:Data were collected on March 29th and 30th, 2020, two weeks after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in the United States. The sample consisted of 683 adolescents recruited using social media. A series of multiple linear regressions examined unique associations among adolescents' motivations to engage in social distancing, perceived amount of social distancing, anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, burdensomeness, and belongingness. RESULTS:Almost all respondents (98.1%) reported engaging in at least a little social distancing. The most commonly reported motivations for social distancing concerned social responsibility and not wanting others to get sick. Motivations concerning state or city lockdowns, parental rules, and social responsibility were associated with greater social distancing, whereas motivations concerning no alternatives were associated with less social distancing. Specific motivations for social distancing were differentially associated with adolescents' anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, burdensomeness, and belongingness. CONCLUSIONS:Understanding adolescents' motivations to engage in social distancing may inform strategies to increase social distancing engagement, reduce pathogen transmission, and identify individual differences in mental and social health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Project description:In addition to the serious physical and medical effects on individuals, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have short- and long-term psycho-social consequences, especially for young people. Nowadays, with psychological problems becoming more widely recognized in adolescents, it is possible that the fear and anxiety caused by the pandemic will trigger various anxiety disorders, OCD and similar negative outcomes. Considering that psychological qualities such as emotional reactivity and experiential avoidance observed in adolescents may increase the risk of such psycho-social disorders, in this study the relationship between fear of COVID-19 and OCD was investigated in a Turkish sample of 598 adolescents, and the mediating role of emotional reactivity, experiential avoidance and depression-anxiety in this relationship was examined. The data collection was performed online rather than in person because of the COVID-19 threat. A structural equation model was used to determine the direct and indirect predictive effects between variables in data analysis. The results of the study show that the effect of COVID-19 fear on OCD is mediated by emotional reactivity, experiential avoidance and depression-anxiety.
Project description:The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the widespread implementation of extraordinary physical distancing interventions (e.g., stay-at-home orders) to slow the spread of the virus. Although vital, these interventions may be socially and economically disruptive, contributing to adverse psychological outcomes. This study examined relations of both stay-at-home orders and the perceived impact of COVID-19 on daily life to psychological outcomes (depression, health anxiety, financial worry, social support, and loneliness) in a nationwide U.S. community adult sample (N = 500; 47% women, mean age = 40). Participants completed questionnaires assessing psychological outcomes, stay-at-home order status, and COVID-19's impact on their daily life. Being under a stay-at-home order was associated with greater health anxiety, financial worry, and loneliness. Moreover, the perceived impact of COVID-19 on daily life was positively associated with health anxiety, financial worry, and social support, but negatively associated with loneliness. Findings highlight the importance of social connection to mitigate negative psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a distressing psychiatric disorder. Traumas may trigger or aggravate OCD symptoms. COVID-19 pandemic has coursed a global crisis and has been associated with onset of psychiatric disorders in adults. Little is known about children/adolescents with OCD. The present study aimed to examine how children/adolescents with OCD react towards COVID-19 crisis. METHODS:A questionnaire was distributed to two separate groups of children/adolescents. One group was a clinical group newly diagnosed at a specialized OCD clinic. All the children/adolescents had a current close contact to a therapist or doctor. The other group was a survey group identified through the Danish OCD Association. Most of these children/adolescents were diagnosed years ago, and their primary treatment was completed. For the clinical group, data from patient files was available. RESULTS:In both groups, but most pronounced in the survey group, participants experienced a worsening of their OCD, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. The aggravation of OCD correlated with the worsening of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and the extent of avoidance behavior. For both groups, OCD aggressive symptoms predicted a significant worsening. Poor baseline insight showed a trend to predict a symptom worsening. The worsening was most pronounced in children with early age of onset and a family history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. CONCLUSIONS:To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies examining the effect of COVID-19 in children/adolescents with OCD. The effect was examined in two separate populations strengthening the findings. The study points towards an influence of the OCD phenotype, baseline insight suggesting a continued vulnerability, and a family history of psychiatric disorders. TRIAL REGISTRATION:The study is approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (1-16-02-147-20) registered 1st of April 2020. Oral and written information was given to parents and patients and written consent from patients over 15?years and parents were received.
Project description:On January 30th 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 pandemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Italy has been one of the most affected countries in the world. To contain further spread of the virus, the Italian government has imposed an unprecedented long-period lockdown for the entire country. This dramatic scenario may have caused a strong psychological distress, with potential negative long-term mental health consequences. The aim of the present study is to report the prevalence of high psychological distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the general population, especially considering that this aspect is consistently associated with PTSD symptoms. Furthermore, the present study aims to identify the risk factors for high PTSD symptoms, including individual differences and subjective perception of both economic and psychological aspects. We administered an online survey to 1253 participants during the peak period of the contagion in Italy. A logistic regression on the Impact of Event Scale - Revised (IES-R) scores was used to test the risk factors that predict the possibility to develop PTSD symptoms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gender (female), lower perceived economic stability, higher neuroticism, and fear and consequences of contagion were predictors of high PTSD symptomatology. The results, highlighted in the present study, extend our understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the population's mental health, by identifying individuals at high-risk of developing PTSD. This may help with the implementation of specific protocols to prevent the possibility of developing symptoms of PTSD in target populations.
Project description:After the COVID-19 worldwide spread, evidence suggested a vast diffusion of negative consequences on people's mental health. Together with depression and sleep difficulties, anxiety symptoms seem to be the most diffused clinical outcome. The current contribution aimed to examine attentional bias for virus-related stimuli in people varying in their degree of health anxiety (HA). Consistent with previous literature, it was hypothesized that higher HA would predict attentional bias, tested using a visual dot-probe task, to virus-related stimuli. Participants were 132 Italian individuals that participated in the study during the lockdown phase in Italy. Results indicated that the HA level predicts attentional bias toward virus-related objects. This relationship is double mediated by the belief of contagion and by the consequences of contagion as assessed through a recent questionnaire developed to measure the fear for COVID-19. These findings are discussed in the context of cognitive-behavioral conceptualizations of anxiety suggesting a risk for a loop effect. Future research directions are outlined.
Project description:<b>Background:</b> During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, quarantine as an effective public health measure has been widely used in China and elsewhere to slow down the spread, while high-risk psychological response populations remain under-reported. <b>Objective:</b> The aim of the study is to investigate the depressive and anxiety symptoms among the high-risk individuals quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic in China. <b>Methods:</b> An online survey was conducted from February 29 to April 10, 2020, among individuals quarantined for at least 2 weeks due to the high-risk exposure. Chinese versions of the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) with a seven-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) were applied to assess depressive and anxiety symptoms, respectively. Compliance with quarantine and knowledge of COVID-19 was also assessed. An unconditional logistic regression model was performed to identify the correlators. <b>Results:</b> Of the 1,260 participants completing the full survey, 14.0% (95% CI: 12.2-16.1%), 7.1% (95% CI: 5.9-8.7%), and 6.3% (95% CI: 5.1-7.8%) had at least moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and a combination of depression and anxiety (CDA), respectively; 14.8% (95% CI: 13.0-16.9%) had at least one condition. Multivariate analysis showed that participants with an undergraduate or above degree were more likely to report depressive (OR = 2.98, 95% CI: 1.56-5.72) and anxiety symptoms (OR = 2.95, 95% CI: 1.14-7.63) than those with middle school education. Those who were unemployed (OR = 0.37, 95% CI: 0.21-0.65 for depression; OR = 0.31, 95% CI: 0.14-0.73 for anxiety), students (OR = 0.14, 95% CI: 0.04-0.48 for depression; OR = 0.11, 95% CI: 0.01-0.85 for anxiety), and more knowledgeable of COVID-19 (OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.73-0.96 for depression, OR = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.68-0.98 for anxiety) were less likely to report depressive and anxiety symptoms. Higher quarantine compliance correlated with lower risks of depressive (OR = 0.94, 95% CI: 0.91-0.96) and anxiety symptoms (OR = 0.95, 95% CI: 0.91-0.98). <b>Conclusion:</b> Individuals under quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic suffered prevalent depressive and anxiety symptoms. Consequently, comprehensive interventional measures, including knowledge dissemination, timely virus tests, and strengthened communication, may minimize quarantine's adverse effects.
Project description:There is minimal knowledge about the impact of large-scale epidemics on community mental health, particularly during the acute phase. This gap in knowledge means we are critically ill-equipped to support communities as they face the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to provide data urgently needed to inform government policy and resource allocation now and in other future crises. The study was the first to survey a representative sample from the Australian population at the early acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Depression, anxiety, and psychological wellbeing were measured with well-validated scales (PHQ-9, GAD-7, WHO-5). Using linear regression, we tested for associations between mental health and exposure to COVID-19, impacts of COVID-19 on work and social functioning, and socio-demographic factors. Depression and anxiety symptoms were substantively elevated relative to usual population data, including for individuals with no existing mental health diagnosis. Exposure to COVID-19 had minimal association with mental health outcomes. Recent exposure to the Australian bushfires was also unrelated to depression and anxiety, although bushfire smoke exposure correlated with reduced psychological wellbeing. In contrast, pandemic-induced impairments in work and social functioning were strongly associated with elevated depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as decreased psychological wellbeing. Financial distress due to the pandemic, rather than job loss per se, was also a key correlate of poorer mental health. These findings suggest that minimizing disruption to work and social functioning, and increasing access to mental health services in the community, are important policy goals to minimize pandemic-related impacts on mental health and wellbeing. Innovative and creative strategies are needed to meet these community needs while continuing to enact vital public health strategies to control the spread of COVID-19.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Anxiety and depression symptoms in pregnancy typically affect between 10 and 25% of pregnant individuals. Elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety are associated with increased risk of preterm birth, postpartum depression, and behavioural difficulties in children. The current COVID-19 pandemic is a unique stressor with potentially wide-ranging consequences for pregnancy and beyond. METHODS:We assessed symptoms of anxiety and depression among pregnant individuals during the current COVID-19 pandemic and determined factors that were associated with psychological distress. 1987 pregnant participants in Canada were surveyed in April 2020. The assessment included questions about COVID-19-related stress and standardized measures of depression, anxiety, pregnancy-related anxiety, and social support. RESULTS:We found substantially elevated anxiety and depression symptoms compared to similar pre-pandemic pregnancy cohorts, with 37% reporting clinically relevant symptoms of depression and 57% reporting clinically relevant symptoms of anxiety. Higher symptoms of depression and anxiety were associated with more concern about threats of COVID-19 to the life of the mother and baby, as well as concerns about not getting the necessary prenatal care, relationship strain, and social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher levels of perceived social support and support effectiveness, as well as more physical activity, were associated with lower psychological symptoms. CONCLUSION:This study shows concerningly elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression among pregnant individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, that may have long-term impacts on their children. Potential protective factors include increased social support and exercise, as these were associated with lower symptoms and thus may help mitigate long-term negative outcomes.
Project description:COVID-19 emerged in November 2019 leading to a global pandemic that has not only resulted in widespread medical complications and loss of life, but has also impacted global economies and transformed daily life. The current rapid response study in a convenience online sample quickly recruited 2,065 participants across the United States, Canada, and Europe in late March and early April 2020. Cross-sectional findings indicated elevated anxiety and depressive symptoms compared to historical norms, which were positively associated with COVID-19 concern more strongly than epidemiological data signifying risk (e.g., world and country confirmed cases). Employment loss was positively associated with greater depressive symptoms and COVID-19 concern, and depressive symptoms and COVID-19 concern were significantly associated with more stringent self-quarantine behavior. The rapid collection of data during the early phase of this pandemic is limited by under-representation of non-White and middle age and older adults. Nevertheless, these findings have implications for interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19 infection.