Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Long-Term Depression Symptoms among Veterans

2024  Journal Article

Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Long-Term Depression Symptoms among Veterans

Pub TLDR

This study provides important evidence of long-term depression risk after SARS-CoV-2 infection in veterans, highlighting the need for long-term mental health monitoring and treatment, especially of psychological depressive symptoms, in this population.

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-024-08630-z    PubMed ID: 38625482
 

College of Health researcher(s)

OSU Profile

Highlights

  • U.S. military veterans infected with SARS-CoV-2 had significantly higher depression symptoms scores compared to uninfected veterans 18 months after their initial infection date. This association was seen regardless of prior history of depression.
  • The differences were more pronounced for psychological symptoms of depression (low mood, suicidal ideation, etc.) compared to physical symptoms.
  • The findings suggest routine evaluation of depression symptoms over time following SARS-CoV-2 infection is important to facilitate adequate assessment and treatment, especially psychological symptoms.

Abstract

Background

Prior research demonstrates that SARS-COV-2 infection can be associated with a broad range of mental health outcomes including depression symptoms. Veterans, in particular, may be at elevated risk of increased depression following SARS-COV-2 infection given their high rates of pre-existing mental and physical health comorbidities. However, few studies have tried to isolate SARS-COV-2 infection associations with long term, patient-reported depression symptoms from other factors (e.g., physical health comorbidities, pandemic-related stress).

Objective

To evaluate the association between SARS-COV-2 infection and subsequent depression symptoms among United States Military Veterans.

Design

Survey-based non-randomized cohort study with matched comparators.

Participants

A matched-dyadic sample from a larger, stratified random sample of participants with and without known to SARS-COV-2 infection were invited to participate in a survey evaluating mental health and wellness 18-months after their index infection date. Sampled participants were stratified by infection severity of the participant infected with SARS-COV-2 (hospitalized or not) and by month of index date. A total of 186 participants in each group agreed to participate in the survey and had sufficient data for inclusion in analyses. Those in the uninfected group who were later infected were excluded from analyses.

Main Measures

Participants were administered the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 as part of a phone interview survey. Demographics, physical and mental health comorbidities were extracted from VHA administrative data.

Key Results

Veterans infected with SARS-COV-2 had significantly higher depression symptoms scores compared with those uninfected. In particular, psychological symptoms (e.g., low mood, suicidal ideation) scores were elevated relative to the comparator group (MInfected = 3.16, 95%CI: 2.5, 3.8; MUninfected = 1.96, 95%CI: 1.4, 2.5). Findings were similar regardless of history of depression.

Conclusion

SARS-COV-2 infection was associated with more depression symptoms among Veterans at 18-months post-infection. Routine evaluation of depression symptoms over time following SARS-COV-2 infection is important to facilitate adequate assessment and treatment.

Chen, J.I., Bui, D., Iwashyna, T.J., Shahoumian, T., Hickok, A., Shepherd-Banigan, M.E., Hawkins, E.J., Naylor, J., Govier, D.J., Osborne, T.F., Smith, V.A., Bowling, C.B., Boyko, E.J., Ioannou, G.N., Maciejewski, M.L., O’Hare, A., Viglianti, E.M., Bohnert, A.S., Hynes, D.M.(2024)Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Long-Term Depression Symptoms among VeteransJournal of General Internal Medicine