The psychiatric effects of COVID-19 thus far: a review of the current literature

  • Kandis Wright
  • Ashish Sarangi
  • Yasin Ibrahim


The novel COVID-19 pandemic is affecting hundreds of countries with increasing cases and deaths. Global social distancing, quarantines, travel restrictions, and cancelations of schools and large gatherings have been instituted to decrease viral spread. This has sparked perpetual worldwide fear, panic, anxiety, depression, and distress along with concern for suicide, grief, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), guilt, and long term mental health disorders. In this paper, we review current literature in PubMed regarding psychiatric effects of COVID-19 on varying populations and what long term mental health effects warrant consideration. In the general public, significant anxiety (6.33-35.1%) is focused largely on family members and loved ones potentially contracting COVID-19; this fear is associated with female gender, student status, and various age groups, and is exacerbated by social media, self-quarantine, increased time thinking about COVID-19, and misinformation. Self-reported depression ranges from 16.5-48.3%. Other potential at risk populations include pregnant women, parents, children, the elderly, and patients with pre-existing mental health disorders. COVID-19 has driven suicide and exacerbated obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Medical healthcare workers have increased anxiety, depression, distress, and low sleep quality, with frontline female nurses reporting the most symptoms. Patients with COVID-19 have a high prevalence of PTSD, depression, and low quality of life. PTSD, depression, grief, and guilt are of long term concern. Overall, future and continued studies exploring the psychiatric effects of COVID-19 worldwide are critical in understanding and treating affected populations.

Key words: Psychiatric, COVID-19 and mental health symptoms, anxiety, depression, suicide, grief, and PTSD


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How to Cite
Wright, K., Sarangi, A., & Ibrahim, Y. (2020). The psychiatric effects of COVID-19 thus far: a review of the current literature. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles, 8(35), 17-28.