Network Analysis of Depressive Symptoms Among Residents of Wuhan in the Later Stage of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Na Zhao, Wen Li, Shu Fang Zhang, Bing Xiang Yang, Sha Sha, Teris Cheung, Todd Jackson, Yu Feng Zang, Yu Tao Xiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Depression has been a common mental health problem during the COVID-19 epidemic. From a network perspective, depression can be conceptualized as the result of mutual interactions among individual symptoms, an approach that may elucidate the structure and mechanisms underlying this disorder. This study aimed to examine the structure of depression among residents in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, in the later stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A total of 2,515 participants were recruited from the community via snowball sampling. The Patient Health Questionnaire was used to assess self-reported depressive symptoms with the QuestionnaireStar program. The network structure and relevant centrality indices of depression were examined in this sample. Results: Network analysis revealed Fatigue, Sad mood, Guilt and Motor disturbances as the most central symptoms, while Suicide and Sleep problems had the lowest centrality. No significant differences were found between women and men regarding network structure (maximum difference = 0.11, p = 0.44) and global strength (global strength difference = 0.04; female vs. male: 3.78 vs. 3.83, p = 0.51), a finding that suggests there are no gender differences in the structure or centrality of depressive symptoms. Limitations: Due to the cross-sectional study design, causal relationships between these depressive symptoms or dynamic changes in networks over time could not be established. Conclusions: Fatigue, Sad mood, Guilt, and Motor disturbances should be prioritized as targets in interventions and prevention efforts to reduce depression among residents in Wuhan, in the later stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number735973
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


  • COVID-19
  • depression
  • mental health
  • network analysis
  • Wuhan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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