Several studies have assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on anxiety and depression, but have not focused on the role of sex and gender. This study compared changes in the levels of anxiety and depression (pre- and post-COVID) experienced by individuals of various sexes and genders.
We used a cross-sectional online survey that assessed pre- and post-COVID symptoms of anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2) and depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9). General linear modeling (fixed model factorial analysis of variance) was used to evaluate changes in anxiety and depression between pre- and post-pandemic periods and explore differential effects of sex and gender on those changes.
Our study included 1847 participants from 43 countries and demonstrated a percentage increase of 57.1% and 74.2% in anxiety and depression, respectively. For the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 scale (maximum score 6), there was a mean increase in anxiety by sex for male, female, and other of 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4, respectively; and by gender for man, woman, and others of 0.9, 1.3, and 1.6, respectively. For the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (maximum score 27), there was a mean increase in depressive symptoms by sex for male, female, and other of 3.6, 4.7, and 5.5 respectively; and by gender for man, woman, and others of 3.3, 4.8, and 6.5, respectively.
During COVID-19, there was an increase in anxiety and depressive symptoms for all sexes and genders, with the greatest increases reported by those identifying as non-male and non-men.