Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst

Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst
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ISSN: 2167-1044


Changes in Depression during Pre and Post-Lockdown in a Chinese Student Sample

Xinhua Yang1*, Liangliang Chen1, Chenglei Wang1, Sixun Liu2, Mengqing Long2

Objective: The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on student mental health has been an increasing concern in higher education. Some studies suggest that university students’ mental health have worsened, whereas other report that mental health remain stable, or even improvement during lockdown. Because of a lack of prospective studies with pre-during-post lockdown assessments, the long-term consequences of lockdown on students’ mental health are unknown.

Methods: This prospective study investigated short and long-term changes in mental health during the Chinese lockdown monitored across fourteen months from October 2019 to December 2020 measuring depressive and psychiatric symptoms, psychological resilience, perceived stress, suicidal ideation, and self-harm behavior. Self-report data was collected from 282 undergraduates (161 females) at three-time points: autumn 2019 (baseline, pre-pandemic), the sixth week of lockdown, and 10 months post-lockdown. The linear mixed model was used to examine the overall change in depression over time.

Results: Compared with before lockdown, an overall decrease in depression was found during and post-lockdown. Psychological resilience significantly increased whereas perceived stress significantly decreased 10 months after lockdown. There were no significant changes in psychotic symptoms and self-harm over time. Individuals with high level of psychotic symptoms and those with self-harm had less decrease in depression than those with without these conditions. No difference was observed for other subgroups.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 lockdown could have brought benefits rather than negative influences on mental health in Chinese university students. Such changes have important implications on how we can foster positive youth development in times of crisis.