One in five children had depressive and anxiety symptoms after a month of confinement

For weeks, specialists have warned of the problems that could be caused these days trapped in boys and girls and, now, a study on Chinese schoolchildren provides context to the debate. One in five minors in Hubei province had depressive or anxiety symptoms after a month of confinement at home. More specifically, in Wuhan, the figure for schoolchildren with depressive signs grew to 26%.

This study, carried out by the universities of Huazhong (China) and South Carolina (USA), included the participation of 1,800 preadolescent schoolchildren from the province of Hubei, from the cities of Wuhan and Huangshi, located 100 kilometers from the capital. The results, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, indicate that 22.6% of the students showed having depressive symptoms, more than five points higher than in other investigations in primary schools in China.

Furthermore, the study found that 18.9% of students reported symptoms of anxiety, which is higher than the prevalence in other surveys. These findings suggest that serious infectious diseases can influence children’s mental health like other traumatic experiences do. On average, the kids in the study had been confined for 34 days when they participated.

One of the striking aspects of the study has to do with the relationship between these symptoms and the optimism of the kids and their fear of getting infected ―difficulties to fall asleep, restlessness and fear of going out, anxiety to avoid danger, the virus or in case the police scold them―.

Those who were not optimistic about the pandemic, compared to those who were quite optimistic, had significantly higher scores, with an increased risk of depressive symptoms. 21% of optimists had these symptoms, compared to 38% of non-optimists. However, the authors indicate they cannot determine the causality: if they have symptoms, among which pessimism appears or if they were pessimistic before, with negative affectivity and this situation has led to the symptoms.

In any case, 27.7% of Hubei schoolchildren with the most fear of catching had depressive symptoms, compared to 16.6% who did not have that fear.

Link to the paper: https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1619

Editorial Disclaimer: information published during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic may be updated frequently to reflect the dynamic nature of current understanding.

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