Psychological morbidity among post-COVID-19 patients: A cross-sectional study from Chennai, South India

  • D Devi
  • V Monica
  • Ravi Santhosh
  • Vijaya Raghavan (SCARF) Schizophrenia Care and Research Foundation
  • P Poornachandrika
Keywords: post-COVID, psychological morbidity, depression, anxiety, insomnia, post viral illness


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health threat and is by far the largest outbreak of atypical pneumonia, since the SARS outbreak in 2003. A range of psychiatric morbidities such as persistent depression, anxiety, panic attacks, delirium and suicidality were observed in the post infectious state across the world. Hence, the aim of the study was to understand the psychological status of the patients affected by COVID during their post-COVID follow-up period and to examine the socio-demographic and clinical factors associated with high psychological morbidity.

Materials and methods: A cross sectional study conducted in the post-COVID follow up clinic, at a tertiary care hospital between the months of August - November 2020, using a semi structured proforma and rating scales such as Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) for depression, anxiety and insomnia, respectively.

Results: The study results indicate that the prevalence of depression and anxiety among post-COVID-19 patients was 21.9% and 11.9%, respectively. Insomnia was observed among 21.7%Among various socio-demographic and clinical variables examined, it was observed that female gender, patients with ongoing stressors and patients with post-COVID-19 persistent physical symptoms were found to be associated with depression and anxiety among the study population.

Conclusions: Persistent physical symptoms and ongoing life stressors are found to be associated with depression and anxiety among post-COVID-19 patients. Hence, periodic screening for individuals with persisting physical symptoms and care for the vulnerable population such as those with ongoing stressors will provide a significant advantage in the follow up of the mental health of the patients affected with COVID-19.