Background: Previous studies have suggested links between anxiety response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and depression symptoms in general population. However, a symptom-level investigation has not been reported.
Objective: This study aimed to use network analysis to identify central symptoms and bridge symptoms that link COVID-19 anxiety and depression.
Methods: Data from 1788 participants were analyzed. Coronavirus anxiety and depression symptoms were measured using the Stress and Anxiety to Viral Epidemics-6 Items Scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, respectively. Network analysis was performed using R.
Results: The results revealed ‘thoughts of suicide or self-harm’ from Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and ‘worry about others avoiding me’ from Stress and Anxiety to Viral Epidemics-6 Items Scale as bridge symptoms. Findings suggest direct relationship between fear of social isolation and thoughts of suicide or self-harm. ‘Feeling tired with little energy’ and ‘trouble concentrating’ are strongly linked to ‘thoughts of suicide or self-harm’, suggesting these symptoms as risk factors for suicidal or self-injurious thoughts during the pandemic.
Conclusions: The findings suggest fear of social isolation as a risk factor for developing thoughts of suicide or self-harm. These results should be taken into account during evaluation of risk of suicide or mental health interventions for the pandemic.