Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and perceived mastery in older adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: Results from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam

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Objective: Governmental measures to protect older adults from COVID-19 are hypothesized to cause anxiety and depression. Previous studies are heterogeneous and showed small effects. This study aims to assess depressive and anxiety symptoms and perceived mastery just after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years in community-dwelling older adults and to identify potential risk groups according to the comprehensive geriatric assessment framework. Methods: Data were used from 1068 Dutch older adults (aged 55–93 at baseline in 2011–2013) participating in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, including 4 follow-ups spanning 9 years. Depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and feelings of mastery were assessed with the short Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D-10), the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale - Anxiety subscale (HADS-A) and the Pearlin Mastery Scale. Linear mixed regression was used to compare outcomes in June-August 2020 to previous years and to examine predictors to identify risk groups. Results: Slight increases in CES-D-10 (1.37, 95% Confidence interval [CI] 1.12;1.62), HADS-A (0.74, 95% CI 0.56;0.94) and mastery (1.10, 95% CI 0.88;1.31) occurred during the COVID year compared to previous years. Older adults with functional limitations or with frailty showed a smaller increase in feelings of mastery in the COVID-year. Conclusion: Our results suggest limited mental health effects on older adults from the first COVID-19 wave. Older adults have perhaps better coping strategies than younger adults, or preventive measures did not have extensive consequences for the daily life of older adults. Further monitoring of depression, anxiety and perceived mastery is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110656
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Early online date30 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

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