Covid's legacy in older people with asthma
One in seven older adults with asthma experienced depression for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Canadian research. Half of older adults with asthma and a history of depression experienced a recurrence of depression during the pandemic.
Participants’ mean age was 61.1 years and 59.8 per cent were female. The study included 1,247 adults with asthma, but without a history of depression. Of these, 13.4 per cent developed depression for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the 770 people with asthma and a history of depression, 48.2 per cent experienced a recurrence of depression.
Several factors increased the risk of depression in the research sample. For instance, respondents who felt lonely three to seven days a week during the pandemic were four and two times (odds ratio [OR] 4.33 and 2.28 respectively) more likely to experience new or recurrent depressive symptoms respectively than those who felt lonely up to two days a week.
Asthma patients who experienced issues accessing usual healthcare (OR 1.54 and 1.71 respectively) were also more likely to experience new or recurrent depressive symptoms respectively. People who experienced difficulties accessing resources (OR 1.60) were more likely to develop new depression.
“When considering the high comorbidity between asthma and depression prior to the pandemic … it is unsurprising that this population experienced a precipitous decline in mental health during the pandemic,” says study author, Andie MacNeil, a research assistant at the Institute for Life Course and Aging, University of Toronto.
“It is important for clinicians and healthcare professionals to be screening for depressive symptoms among their patients with asthma, even among those who have not shown signs of depression in the past,” added author Grace Li, a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria. (Respiratory Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.rmed. 2022.107003)