Due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the planet is going through a historical time of exceptional concern and uncertainty, which impacts people’s mental health. Here, we explored the levels of depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and their relation with the degree of physical activity and social interaction during the pandemic.
We performed a structured survey containing the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 tests to evaluate
depressive symptoms and GAD levels. We also asked about weekly physical activity and the level of social interaction. We surveyed two groups of University students in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area: an internal group from the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires, and an external group of students from multiple universities. The survey was conducted in late October/early-November 2020, after a peak of contagions. Some of the participants were surveyed again in January 2021, during academic holidays and after a valley of contagion, for longitudinal analysis
Our data show that men and women of both groups exhibited a significant positive linear
correlation between depression and GAD levels. Moreover, low levels of depression and anxiety were associated with performing physical activity for more than two days a week and to longer periods of social interaction. Finally, the second survey revealed a decrease of the symptoms.