Assessment of Depression Severity During Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic Among the Palestinian Population: A Growing Concern and an Immediate Consideration
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Original research
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Background: Aggressive quarantine and lockdown measures were implemented as protective public health actions during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Assessing the psychological effects associated with these measures is an important attempt to inform local policymakers in an early stage. Yet little is known about these effects, specifically depression, among the Palestinians. This study aimed to assess the prevalence and predictors of depression among the Palestinian community during this pandemic.

Materials and methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey throughout social media (Facebook and Instagram) was carried out using an anonymous online questionnaire. The validated and standardized depression, anxiety, and stress scale (DASS) was used to measure depression severity. A snowball technique recruiting the general public living in Palestine was conducted. Data were collected between 6 and 16 April 2020, which corresponded to the middle interval of strict massive lockdown in Palestine on 22 March to 5 May 2020. Multinomial logistic regression model was developed to predict depression severity.

Results: About 2,819 respondents filled out the questionnaire. Depression prevalence was (57.5%; n = 1,621). Out of them, 66% had mild/moderate severity, and 34% had severe/extremely severe degree. Depression severity was negatively associated with age {mild/moderate degree [OR (95% CI) = 0.98 (0.97–0.99)] and severe/extremely severe [OR (95% CI) = 0.96 (0.94–0.97)]} degrees compared with normal degree. Males were significantly less likely to have higher depression than females {mild/moderate degree [OR (95% CI) = 0.69 (0.57–0.85)] and severe/extremely severe [OR (95% CI) = 0.52 (0.40–0.86)]} degree. However, those who reported having inadequate food supply and lesser monthly incomes were more likely to have a higher degree of depression as compared with normal degree. Single persons were significantly more likely to have mild/moderate depression than those in a relationship [OR (95% CI) = 1.31 (1.05–1.64)].

Conclusions: High depression prevalence (57.5%) among the Palestinian community during the COVID-19 pandemic is a growing public health concern. It is essential to provide psychological counseling and treatment during and after the pandemic for the targeted people at high risk (young age/female gender) who were affected psychologically. Strategic long-term policy to address pandemic ramifications, including depression, by implementing comprehensive interventions taking into account socioeconomic disparities, vulnerability, and inequities, is crucial to emerge from this crisis in Palestine.

Journal
Title
Front. Psychiatry
Publisher
Frontiers
Publisher Country
Switzerland
Indexing
Thomson Reuters
Impact Factor
2.849
Publication Type
Online only
Volume
11
Year
2020
Pages
1486