RESEARCH – November 2022

Prevalence of depression symptoms among Estonian adults and associated factors after the first COVID-19 year

Authors: Elisa Kender, Sigrid Vorobjov, Rainer Reile, Kaire Innos, Eha Nurk, Kaia Laidra, Merili Tamson

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Background and aim. Mental disorders, especially depression, are leading causes of the global health related burden. Evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the incidence of mental health problems. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of depression symptoms among adults and to analyse associations between self-reported depression symptoms and health and COVID-19 related factors in the general population of Estonia.
Methodology. The study was conducted at the National Institute for Health Development. Data were collected from the crosssectional web-based survey, conducted after
the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak (from April 13 to May 5, 2021) in Estonia. Altogether 3,604 adults responded to the survey; the response rate was 35%. The data for 3,557 respondents were included in analysis. The Emotional State Questionnaire version 2, a self-report questionnaire for depression symptoms, was used to assess the prevalence with the 95% confidence interval (CI). Logistic regression analysis was used to analyse associations between depression symptoms and various factors.
Results. During the past month, 18.6% (95% CI 17.3–20.0) of the respondents had had depression symptoms. The prevalenceof depression symptoms was significantly higher among women compared to men (15.2% vs. 21.6%, AOR = 1.8) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The odds of depression sy mptoms during the COV ID-19 pandemic were higher for younger adults, e.g., compared to 70+ year-old people. The AOR=12.0 for 19–29 year- old, AOR=6.0 for 30–39 year-old and AOR=3.8 for 40–49 year-old people. In addition, people with poorer living conditions, unemployed and non-working people and people living alone had higher odds of depressive symptoms. This was also the case with lower self-rated health, less people to rely on, as well as consumption of alcohol in harmful amounts and occasional smoking of regular or e-cigarettes.
Conclusion. About one person in five had experienced depression symptoms during the past month. Interventions should primarily be targeted to women, younger age groups, those with a smaller social support network and people with poorer living conditions.