Fear and depression linked to COVID-19 exposure A study of adult twins during the COVID-19 pandemic

Tsang S, Avery AR, Duncan GE.

Millions of people have been impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic worldwide. High infection rates and death tolls, combined with social distancing measures, may have unintended psychological consequences on individuals. The goal of this study was to examine the interrelations between COVID-19 exposure, fear of COVID-19, and depression among a community-based sample of adult twins. We further explored whether fear of COVID-19 mediated the association between COVID-19 exposure and depression. 732 same-sex adult twin pairs (78.1% MZ, 21.9% DZ) completed an online survey examining their feelings in May 2020. About one-fifth of the participants reported having any COVID-19 exposure. Most participants (>80%) were somewhat concerned about themselves or their household members being infected by COVID-19. The average depression level was relatively low (M = 0.9 out of 6). We found that COVID-19 exposure was related to increased fears of COVID-19 and depression, and that depressive feelings increased with fear of COVID-19. The correlation between COVID-19 exposure and depression was partially mediated by fear of COVID-19. However, these associations were confounded by familial influences. As society navigates through the pandemic, it is essential to implement public health strategies to help individuals cope with the concerns and fears about COVID-19.

Fear and depression linked to COVID-19 exposure: A study of adult twins during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychiatry Res. 2021 Feb;296:113699.