BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic may have a differential impact on mental health based on an individual's capital, i.e. resources available to maintain and enhance health. We assessed trajectories of depression and anxiety symptoms, and their association with different elements of capital.
METHODS: Data on 65,854 individuals (mean baseline age = 50·4 (SD = 12·0) years) from the Lifelines COVID-19 cohort were used. Baseline mental health symptoms were on average measured 4.7 (SD = 1·1) years before the first COVID-19 measurement wave, and subsequent waves were (bi)weekly (March 30─August 05, 2020). Mental health symptom trajectories were estimated using a two-part Latent Class Growth Analysis. Class membership was predicted by economic (education, income, and occupation) and person capital (neuroticism, poor health condition, and obesity) FINDINGS: Most individuals were unlikely to report symptoms of depression (80·6%) or anxiety (75·9%), but stable-high classes were identified for both conditions (1·6% and 6·7%, respectively). The stable-high depression class saw the greatest increase in symptoms after COVID, and the stable-high anxiety class reported an increase in the probability of reporting symptoms after COVID. At the first COVID-measurement, the mean number of symptoms increased compared to baseline (depression:4·7 vs 4·1; anxiety:4·3 vs 4·2); the probability of reporting symptoms also increased (depression:0·96 vs 0·65; anxiety:0·92 vs 0·70). Membership in these classes was generally predicted by less capital, especially person capital; odds ratios for person capital ranged from 1·10-2·22 for depression and 1·08-1·51 for anxiety.
INTERPRETATION: A minority of individuals, possessing less capital, reported an increase in symptoms of depression or anxiety after COVID.
FUNDING: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.