The Iranian Corona Stress Study: Psychological Impacts of COVID‑19 Pandemic in an Iranian Population

Sadegh Sabouhi, Atefeh Vaezi, Mohammad Reza Sharbafchi, Amanda Aerni, Dorothee Bentz, David Coynel, Dominique de Quervain, Bernhard Fehlmann, Virginie Freytag, Christiane Gerhards, Andreas Papassotiropoulos, Nathalie Schicktanz, Thomas Schlitt, Anja Zimmer, Priska Zuber, Ehssan Amini


Background: To assess the psychological consequences of changes during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID‑19) pandemic in the Iranian population.

Methods: We performed an anonymous online survey in the first 3 weeks of March 2020. Individuals older than 14 who could read Persian, and lived in Iran, were eligible for the study. The participants had to rate their stress levels and depressive symptoms (using a nine‑item Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9) during the last 2 weeks and before the pandemic retrospectively. The changes in the psychological measurements and their association with the sociodemographic factors and burdens due to confinement were assessed.

Results: Overall, among the 3,210 subjects who participated in our study, both the stress levels and average depression scores increased. However, about 23% of the subjects reported a decrease in their stress levels. The burden of childcare, restrictions in private life, and thoughts about the future were positively correlated with the changes in the stress levels and depression scores (|r| > 0.15). However, feeling relieved in the pandemic condition, and enjoying more family time were associated with less change in the stress and depression scores. Being religious (odds ratio [OR] [CI]: 1.5 [1.3‑1‑8]) and older age (OR [CI]: 2.9 [1.8–4.6] for >55 years old) were identified as the resilience factors, whereas being a student (OR [CI]: 2.1 [1.6;2.7]), seeking a job (OR [CI]: 2.6 [1.8;3.9]), and history of a psychiatric disorder (OR [CI]: 3.2 [2.6;4]) were identified as the risk factors for depression.

Conclusions: The stress levels and depressive symptoms have increased during the COVID‑19 pandemic and this increase is related to different social and personal burdens due to the confinement conditions.


COVID‑19; depression; epidemiology; psychological; stress

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