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There is paucity of epidemiological studies from the Arab world and most of the focus of available international data is on the early months of the pandemic.
We conducted the first cross-sectional national phone survey of adults in Qatar during the end of the first wave of the pandemic (December 2020 -January 2021) to estimate the prevalence and determinants of depression and/or anxiety.
We used the Physician Health Questionnaire-9 and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 with cut-off scores of ≥10; the revised UCLA loneliness scale; and questions related to COVID-19 status, death of family or friend, quarantine, health and changes in living arrangements. Bivariate and logistic regression models estimated associations between thirteen variables and combined depression-anxiety (score of 20 or higher).
The two-week prevalence of depression was 6.5% (95%CI: 5.1-8.4), of anxiety 5.1% (95%CI: 3.8-6.9), but only 2.5% sought mental health professional help since the pandemic started. When including loneliness (OR=1.57, p (<0.001) in the model, the following variables were statistically significantly associated with depression-anxiety: female gender (OR=1.90, p=0.037), Qatari nationality (OR=2.37, p=0.018), Arab ethnicity (OR=3.14, p=0.007), and COVID-19 death of family or friend (OR=3.06, p=0.003). Without adjusting for loneliness, younger age (18-29 versus 40+ years of age: OR=2.9, p=0.004) and chronic health conditions (OR=2.0, p=0.029) were significantly associated with depression-anxiety.
Prevalence of depression and/or anxiety during the end of the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Qatar was similar to pre-pandemic estimates. Mental health service should focus on young adults, women, the bereaved, lonely and those with chronic health problems.