Emergency Department Visits Rise for Those With Depression During Pandemic

The odds of visiting an ED for anxiety were 2.8 times greater than for non-depressed individuals.

Depression was common during the COVID-19 pandemic and worsened for some individuals, leading to a higher number of visits to the emergency department (ED) for treatment of anxiety and chest pain, results from an Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City study show.

“In looking at the first year of the pandemic, we are already seeing the mental health effects on our patients,” Heidi May, PhD, cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute, said in a statement. “We already know that depression raises a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems, so this is very concerning and highlights the importance of screening patients and providing mental health resources that they need.”

Investigators found that nearly 40% of individuals reported continuing or new symptoms of depression during the first year of the pandemic.

The results showed that among individuals with depression, their screening scores were higher during the pandemic than before, and depression was also associated with increased ED visits for anxiety.

The odds of visiting an ED for anxiety were 2.8 times greater for individuals with depression than those without and 1.8 times greater for anxiety with chest pains compared with non-depressed individuals.

Individuals were separated into 2 groups: those with no depression and those who became or remained depressed.

They gathered data from 4633 individuals via electronic health records and then assessed them for follow-up ED visits for anxiety and chest pain.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic was defined as between March 1, 2019, and February 29, 2020, and during the pandemic was defined as between March 1, 2020, and April 20, 2021.

The study findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s virtual 2021 Scientific Session.

Reference

Depression and anxiety worsened during the pandemic, putting patients at higher heart disease risk, study finds. EurekAlert. News release. November 13, 2021. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934337