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ObjectiveTo investigate how trends in incidence of anxiety and depressive disorders have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.DesignPopulation-based cohort study.SettingRetrospective cohort study from 2018 to 2021 using the Information System for Research in Primary Care (SIDIAP) database in Catalonia, Spain.Participants3 640 204 individuals aged 18 or older in SIDIAP on 1 March 2018 with no history of anxiety and depressive disorders.Primary and secondary outcomes measuresThe incidence of anxiety and depressive disorders during the prelockdown period (March 2018-February 2020), lockdown period (March-June 2020) and postlockdown period (July 2020-March 2021) was calculated. Forecasted rates over the COVID-19 periods were estimated using negative binomial regression models based on prelockdown data. The percentage of reduction was estimated by comparing forecasted versus observed events, overall and by sex, age and socioeconomic status.ResultsThe incidence rates per 100 000 person-months of anxiety and depressive disorders were 151.1 (95% CI 150.3 to 152.0) and 32.3 (31.9 to 32.6), respectively, during the prelockdown period. We observed an increase of 37.1% (95% prediction interval 25.5 to 50.2) in incident anxiety diagnoses compared with the expected in March 2020, followed by a reduction of 15.8% (7.3 to 23.5) during the postlockdown period. A reduction in incident depressive disorders occurred during the lockdown and postlockdown periods (45.6% (39.2 to 51.0) and 22.0% (12.6 to 30.1), respectively). Reductions were higher among women during the lockdown period, adults aged 18-34 years and individuals living in the most deprived areas.ConclusionsThe COVID-19 pandemic in Catalonia was associated with an initial increase in anxiety disorders diagnosed in primary care but a reduction in cases as the pandemic continued. Diagnoses of depressive disorders were lower than expected throughout the pandemic.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





Fundació Institut Universitari per a la recerca a l'Atenció Primària de Salut Jordi Gol i Gurina (IDIAPJGol), Barcelona, Spain.


Humans, Retrospective Studies, Cohort Studies, Depression, Anxiety, Mental Health, Communicable Disease Control, Adult, Spain, Female, Pandemics, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2