COVID spurs depression, anxiety among teenagers in Kashmir: Study

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Children hit too; 20 per cent suffer anxiety, 16 percent depression, say Medicos

Srinagar, Apr 18 : Besides resulting in largescale deaths, Covid pandemic has spurred mental health issues among adolescents in Kashmir.

A study conducted by four doctors of Government Medical College Srinagar aimed at assessing prevalence of depression and anxiety and its determinants among school-going adolescents in the Valley has found 16 percent children depressed and 20 percent suffering from anxiety.

Dr Ruqia Quansar told news agency that the Patient Health Questionnaire for Adolescents and Generalised Anxiety Disorder questionnaire were used to screen for depression and anxiety among school-going adolescents aged between 15 and 19 years in January and February 2021.

Of the 439 adolescents who had responded, 426 (97.03%) were included in the final analysis, she said, adding the adolescents had a mean age of 15-19 years and comprised 57% males.

The overall prevalence of depression was 16% and was associated with a past history of COVID-19 infection and anxiety was present in 20% of adolescents, said Dr Ruqia.

The prevalence of anxiety was 14% for boys and 27.5% for girls and the study showed that on logistic regression, anxiety was associated with female gender, past history of personal COVID infection, diagnosis in family and hospitalisation of a family member.

Overweight, less than 150 min/week physical activity, past personal history of COVID, history of admission due to COVID-19 in family and history of being put under home quarantine were significantly associated with depression in univariate analysis, she added.

Depression and anxiety always remained a significant health problem particularly in adolescence, but the unique challenges posed by this pandemic means that the problem may get grave in coming years, said Dr Ruqia.

The health systems need to be proactive and scale-up the availability of mental health services particularly in low and middle income countries.

“The study highlights the need for improving access to preventive and curative mental services for adolescents,” she said and suggested a specific mental health screening programme for adolescents.

The research was conducted by four doctors at the Department of Community Medicine Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar  include  Dr Ruqia Quansar (Corresponding author), Dr Asif Jeelani, Dr Sabira Aalia and Dr Muhammad Salim Khan, Professor and HOD, Community Medicine, GMC Srinagar