This study examined the rates of depressive symptoms in active component U.S. service members prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and eval-uated whether SARS-CoV-2 test results (positive or negative) were associated with self-reported depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were mea-sured by the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) screening instrument and were defined as positive if the total score was 3 or greater. From 1 January 2019 through 31 July 2021, 2,313,825 PHQ-2s were completed with an increase in the positive rate from 4.0% to 6.5% (absolute % difference, +2.5%; relative % change, +67.1%) from the beginning to the end of the period. While there was a gradual increase of 19.8% in the months prior to the pandemic (1.4%/month average), this increase grew to 40.4% during the pandemic (2.5%/month average). However, no association was found between a positive or negative SARS-CoV-2 test result and the PHQ-2 screening instrument result. These findings suggest that the accelerated increase in depressive symptoms is likely a function of the environment of the COVID-19 pandemic instead of the SARS-CoV-2 infection itself. Further research to better understand specific factors of the pandemic leading to depressive symptoms will improve efficient allocation of military medical resources and safeguard military medical readiness.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Medical Surveillance Monthly Report|
|State||Published - Jan 2022|