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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has serious physiological and psychological consequences. The long-term (>12 weeks post-infection) impact of COVID-19 on mental health, specifically in older adults, is unclear. We longitudinally assessed the association of COVID-19 with depression symptomatology in community-dwelling older adults with metabolic syndrome within the framework of the PREDIMED-Plus cohort.
Participants (n = 5486) aged 55–75 years were included in this longitudinal cohort. COVID-19 status (positive/negative) determined by tests (e.g. polymerase chain reaction severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, IgG) was confirmed via event adjudication (410 cases). Pre- and post-COVID-19 depressive symptomatology was ascertained from annual assessments conducted using a validated 21-item Spanish Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Multivariable linear and logistic regression models assessed the association between COVID-19 and depression symptomatology.
COVID-19 in older adults was associated with higher post-COVID-19 BDI-II scores measured at a median (interquartile range) of 29 (15–40) weeks post-infection [fully adjusted β = 0.65 points, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.15–1.15; p = 0.011]. This association was particularly prominent in women (β = 1.38 points, 95% CI 0.44–2.33, p = 0.004). COVID-19 was associated with 62% increased odds of elevated depression risk (BDI-II ≥ 14) post-COVID-19 when adjusted for confounders (odds ratio; 95% CI 1.13–2.30, p = 0.008).
COVID-19 was associated with long-term depression risk in older adults with overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome, particularly in women. Thus, long-term evaluations of the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and preventive public health initiatives are warranted in older adults.
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