The loneliness pandemic: Loneliness and other concomitants of depression, anxiety and their comorbidity during the COVID-19 outbreak

Yuval Palgi, Amit Shrira, Lia Ring, Ehud Bodner, Sharon Avidor, Yoav Bergman, Sara Cohen-Fridel, Shoshi Keisari, Yaakov Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

325 Scopus citations


The first main finding is somewhat counterintuitive, indicating that old age as an actual risk for COVID-19 complications was negatively related with depression and anxiety. Moreover, neither the suffering from chronic medical conditions (related to increased risk of death due to COVID-19) nor exposure to COVID-19 related risk situations were link to higher risk for depressive and anxiety symptoms. Critically, for age, this was even reversed, namely, adults above 60 who are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications, actually displayed greater resilience to psychiatric disorders associated with the COVID-19 crisis. Such results can be viewed in light of older adults typically displaying lower reactivity to stress, exercising more effective emotional regulation, having greater experience with being alone and with life-threatening medical situations, and thus were perhaps less sensitive (Losada-Baltar et al., 2020). The second main finding reveals that loneliness, due to the social-distancing policy, was the main risk-factor for depression, anxiety and especially their comorbidity. In line with previous studies linking loneliness with a range of deleterious physiological and psychiatric outcomes (Heinrich and Gullone, 2006; Shrira et al., 2020), the results underscore that loneliness at such a time (regardless of the social-distancing policy) bears a notable psychiatric toll. Accordingly, policy makers and mental health practitioners need to stress the importance of safe social interactions (Jeste et al., 2020). Although this preliminary study is limited by its cross-sectional and self-report design, which may affect its generalizability, and despite the fact that individuals’ psychiatric history was not assessed, it offers pioneering insight into negative psychiatric outcomes linked with the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, this study is based on a relatively large sample and was conducted during the pandemic, thereby carrying important information in terms of the special psychiatric attention warranted to the more vulnerable younger-adults, who are at lower risk of COVID-19 complications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-111
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date8 Jul 2020
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No funding was given or received for this research and/or preparation of the manuscript. we would like to thank to all those who helped us to distribute the questionnaire.


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