Washington: According to a new longitudinal study published online in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), older persons with COPD were at a higher risk of depression during the early phases of the COVID-19 epidemic. The study looked at 875 people with COPD from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Ageing, a national study of Canadian seniors. Using longitudinal data, researchers were able to distinguish between 369 COPD patients who had a history of depression previous to the pandemic and 506 patients who had never experienced depression prior to the pandemic.

Researchers discovered that one in six people with COPD who had no prior history of depression experienced depression for the first time during the early phases of the pandemic. These findings show the toll that the epidemic inflicted on many people who had previously been depression-free. First author Aneisha Taunque, research assistant at the Institute for Life Course and Aging at the University of Toronto said,

Our findings highlight the substantial burden of COVID-19 on those who were mentally healthy prior to the pandemic. It is evident that the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on the mental health of many individuals, even those who had no lifetime history of depression.

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When the analysis was restricted to those who had a history of depression prior to the pandemic, the prevalence of depression was substantially higher, with approximately one-half of these individuals experiencing a recurrence or persistence of depression during the autumn of 2020. Co-author Grace Li, PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Victoria said,

Older adults who have a history of depressive episodes are a highly vulnerable subset of the population, particularly those who faced numerous challenges with managing their chronic health conditions during the pandemic when access to regular health care was severely disrupted.

Co-author Ishnaa Gulati, a Master of Public Health Student at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health said,

The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the risk of depression among those with COPD. There was already an established higher risk of depression among individuals with COPD when compared to those without COPD prior to the pandemic. When considering the mental health stressors during the pandemic, such as extended periods of lockdown, economic precarity, and concerns about contracting or spreading COVID-19, it is unsurprising that this group experienced major mental health challenges during this period.

Although there is a burgeoning body of research examining depression during the pandemic, very little research has specifically examined the vulnerabilities among those with COPD. Understanding the risk factors for depression in subpopulations of older adults can aid health professionals in more effectively targeting treatment.

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The study’s researchers highlighted several risk factors for both incident and recurrent depression among those with COPD, including loneliness, family conflict, and functional limitations. Co-author Ying Jiang, Senior Epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada said,

We found that experiencing functional limitations approximately doubled the risk of depression among older adults with COPD. Physical activity is integral for maintaining functional status and reducing functional limitations among COPD patients, however many individuals with COPD are hesitant to engage in physical activity. Increases in time spent sedentary during periods of lockdown may have further ramifications for this population, potentially contributing to increases in depression.

Women with COPD also had nearly double the risk of recurrent depression when compared to their male counterparts. co-author Margaret de Groh, Scientific Manager at the Public Health Agency of Canada said,

During the pandemic, many women experienced an exacerbation of gendered roles, such as increased time spent caregiving and doing household labour, which may have contributed to declines in their mental health.

Among individuals with no history of depression, experiencing disruptions to healthcare access was associated with approximately double the risk of incident depression. Co-author Andie MacNeil, research assistant at the University of Toronto’s Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW) said,

Many people with COPD encountered difficulties accessing pulmonary rehabilitation services during the pandemic, which are essential for supporting both the physical and mental health of COPD patients. Our finding that disruptions to healthcare access were associated with incident depression highlights the reverberating consequences when healthcare is inaccessible.

Senior author, Esme Fuller-Thomson, a Professor at FIFSW and Director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging says she hopes the study’s findings can help inform healthcare workers and social service providers about the pandemic’s impact on the mental health of people with COPD. Fuller-Thomson said,

Future research should continue to examine depression among older adults with COPD to better understand the pandemic’s cascading impact, even in the post-COVID era.

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(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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