This week, UBC News featured a new study led by Dr. Daniel Vigo, which examined the association between social proximity to COVID-19 and symptoms of anxiety and depression in university students. Now published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, this was the first study to track the association week-by-week over an extended period of time as COVID-19 cases increased.
Dr. Vigo’s team found that knowing somebody in Vancouver with COVID-19 was the key factor associated with increased levels of anxiety. Interestingly, much of this increase was driven by male students. Being acquainted with somebody who had COVID-19 didn’t seem to make nearly as much difference for female students, although they did start out with more anxiety symptoms than men.
“Anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders are generally more prevalent in women, but it appears they respond with less anxiety when an increase in stressors occurs,” said Dr. Vigo. “The level of anxiety moved much more in men than in women, which potentially indicates a more resilient response among women to unexpected stresses.”