Psychological impact of COVID-19 lock-down on college students across India- a cross sectional study

Sreesupria Purushothaman Ravichandran, Mekhala Kumaravel Palanichami, Kishore Kumar Kalaiselvan, Aarthi Muthukumar, Gautam Mahalingam


Background: Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Indian Government has imposed lock-down to contain its spread. This has resulted in psychological distress in people. College students, known to have an active social life, are also vulnerable to this.  Objectives were to assess the prevalence and severity of core symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress in college students across India during the Lock-down; to estimate the impact of lock-down on time spent on their routine activities, domestic violence, eating habits and sleep pattern; to analyze the impact of various factors and the mental health status.

Methods: A semi-structured questionnaire also containing the 21 items of depression anxiety and stress scale 21 (DASS21) was circulated through social media. College students from different states across India participated. Study period was from April 2020 to May 2020. The responses collected were analyzed using chi squared test and logistic regression.  

Results: Total 53.1%, 37.2% and 24.3% had symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress respectively, with varying severities (N=727). Significant associations of the negative emotional states with decreased time spent with their family and friends and its effects; increased incidence of domestic violence; increased sleep duration; disturbed sleep; financial crisis, etc. were found (p value<0.05).

Conclusions: COVID-19 is building psychological distress among vulnerable college students, as they are forced to stay home, along with worsening financial situations, lifestyle changes, family situations and time spent on various activities. Psychological interventions are recommended.


College students, COVID-19, DASS21, Lock-down, Mental health, Psychological distress

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