To examine the joint associations of civil unrest and COVID-19 with probable anxiety and depression during the first half of 2020 in Hong Kong. Associations were compared between persons with low or high assets.
A population-representative sample of 4011 Hong Kong Chinese residents aged 15 years or older were recruited between February and May 2020. Respondents reported current anxiety and depressive symptoms, unrest stress, COVID-19 stress, assets (savings and home ownership), and demographics.
Stress due to unrest and COVID-19 was associated with higher prevalence of probable anxiety and depression; persons with both stressors had higher prevalence. This pattern was consistent among persons with low or high assets, but the probabilities of mental disorder were substantially higher among persons with fewer assets.
The effect of stressors on probable anxiety and depression are cumulative: persons with stress due to civil unrest and to COVID-19 reported more mental disorders than persons with stress due to only one, or none of these factors. Overall high assets appear to buffer the consequences of stressors, lowering the risk of mental disorder.