Post Covid-19 pandemic, there have been several reports of stress-related depression across the age groups, but older students are at greater risk of depression, anxiety and stress, said a research highlight of the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).
Scholars from several Arab countries studied the prevalence of depression, anxiety and stress (DAS) among youth during and after Covid-19. Dr Omar al Omari of the College of Nursing headed the TRC-funded study that provided valuable input about the DAS syndrome.
Suggesting that the older students were at greater risk of the DAS, it said that the youth with health and academic problems were under greater pressure.
The study recommended regular screening of those found with any such symptoms and identifying the newly evolved variables associated with DAS.
“Parents need to let young people express their feelings and fears about the current situation. They also need to make an effort to increase family time to provide youths with a sense of security,” it says.
This study, according to the research highlight, is the first of its kind to collect data from six different countries using a standardised method and one of the few studies to investigate the prevalence of DAS during Covid-19.
“The findings suggest that the Covid-19 has no significant impact on the selected DAS variables. The prevalence of anxiety ranges from 33.1 per cent in Saudi Arabia to 51.6 per cent in Egypt, with a total prevalence of 40.5 per cent in the six countries.”
“The prevalence of depression in the current study ranged from 47.9 per cent in Saudi Arabia to 64.8 per cent in Egypt, with a total prevalence of 57 per cent. The lockdown and moving to online learning have increased the use of the Internet from an average of 5.46 hours a day before the pandemic to 9.74 hours a day. Therefore, healthcare organisations in collaboration with ministries of telecommunications are strongly encouraged to design and provide specific psychological promotion programmes for youth during this pandemic with the aim of promoting their mental health,” it said.
The scholars discussed the issue in two stages, the first being a cross-sectional descriptive design used to assess the relationship between depression, anxiety and stress during the pandemic. The target population here was young people aged between 15 and 24.
The survey participants were invited for the inputs online using social media platforms from different countries in the region.
In the second stage, the participants’ socio-demographics information, including age, gender, educational level and type, and presence of family members, friends, or colleagues with Covid-19, were collected. It also examined the previous history of depression, anxiety and medication for the depressive syndrome, frequency of watching the news about Covid-19 and Internet use.
“The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS) was used because it is available in the public domain, the Arabic version has been validated, it is sensitive to youth, and it measures depression, anxiety and stress in the same survey,” said the report.