Adults who received COVID-19 vaccines reported short-term reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms

A recent study on Swedish adults explored the prevalence of mental health symptoms before and after immunization with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Study: Short-term improvement of mental health after a COVID-19 vaccination. Image Credit: eamesBot / ShutterstockStudy: Short-term improvement of mental health after a COVID-19 vaccination. Image Credit: eamesBot / Shutterstock


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has substantially negatively impacted the mental health status of both infected and non-infected individuals globally. An increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety, has been observed among severely infected individuals, probably because of SARS-CoV-2-induced neuroinflammation.

Apart from direct infection, pandemic-related social restrictions as well as the fear of contracting infection, have caused a deterioration in mental health among non-infected individuals.

COVID-19 vaccines have led to a significant reduction in cases and severity of the disease worldwide. However, the impact of vaccination on mental health and wellbeing remains poorly understood.

In the current study, scientists have determined the short-term changes in mental health symptoms among individuals immunized with COVID-19 vaccines.

Study design

The study was conducted on 7,925 Swedish adults. Self-reported COVID-19 vaccination status was collected from the participants between July and October 2021. Self-reported depressive and anxiety symptoms were collected from the participants between December 2020 and October 2021.

The prevalence of mental health symptoms was estimated one month before and after the first vaccination and in some cases, one month after the second vaccination. The depressive and anxiety symptoms were estimated using the Patient Health Questionnaire and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder, respectively. The participants reporting no vaccination or chose not to report vaccination status were considered unvaccinated.  

Important observations

Among enrolled participants, 64% received two vaccine doses, 24.9% received a single dose, 3.8% did not receive any vaccination, and 7.1% chose not to report vaccination status.

A lower prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms was observed among vaccinated participants, especially after the second vaccination, compared to unvaccinated individuals.

Among participants with two-dose vaccination, a reduction in mental health symptoms was observed one month after the first and second vaccination. A similar trend was observed among participants who received only a single dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

No significant reduction in depressive or anxiety symptoms was observed among unvaccinated participants over the entire study period. However, after four months, the baseline estimates showed a reduction in the prevalence of depressive symptoms when compared to those obtained at baseline.

Baseline characteristics of the study participants by vaccination status.Baseline characteristics of the study participants by vaccination status.

Study significance

The study demonstrates a short-term improvement in the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms after COVID-19 vaccination among a large number of Swedish adults. The improvement becomes more prominent after the second vaccination, irrespective of age, sex, body mass index, relationship status, smoking habit, presence of comorbidities, history of psychiatric disorders, and SARS-CoV-2 infection status.

As mentioned by the scientists, the study may suffer from selection bias as the participants were recruited from ongoing studies or social media campaigns. Thus, the participants might have different statuses regarding COVID-19 vaccination and mental health outcomes.

Moreover, the study analyzed self-reported information on vaccination and mental health status, which can lead to misclassification of exposure and outcomes. Socioeconomic differences between participants were not addressed in the study. However, such differences can influence individual willingness to COVID-19 vaccination as well as mental disorders.

Despite these limitations, the study highlights that COVID-19 vaccines are not only effective in reducing disease severity but also effective in improving mental health and wellbeing. The study supports the initiation of outreach campaigns targeting vaccine-hesitant individuals for the overall betterment of the mental health status of the general population.

Journal reference:
Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta

Written by

Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta

Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta is a science communicator who believes in spreading the power of science in every corner of the world. She has a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree and a Master's of Science (M.Sc.) in biology and human physiology. Following her Master's degree, Sanchari went on to study a Ph.D. in human physiology. She has authored more than 10 original research articles, all of which have been published in world renowned international journals.


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  1. Darrell M Darrell M United States says:

    I didn't see any mention of a placebo control group.

  2. Anthony Guzman Anthony Guzman Puerto Rico says:

    That's just a reactive emotion triggered by the false sense of hope that they got from false promised, lies and failed experimental mRNA injections(very dangerous injections).

  3. Rick Thompson Rick Thompson Canada says:

    So everyone was feed fear for months so makes sense the false hope of a useless Vacine would make the fearful feel better.

  4. Heather Stone Heather Stone United States says:

    My first assumption is that this is because being vaccinated felt like it was doing something “good” for your health (decreasing depressive symptoms) and decreased anxiety related to fear of catching Covid. It would be interesting to see if it is instead related to occupying the immune system and resulting in less systemic inflammation. I noticed decreased symptoms from my Ulcerative colitis for the months post vaccination, which is a immune system related condition, so I somewhat speculate that my immune system was too preoccupied to attack my gut. Something similar may be happening with anxiety/depression but without more rigorous studies it’s hard to know.

  5. Felix Moyo Edonmi Felix Moyo Edonmi South Africa says:

    I don't if I should laugh or cry. It's unfortunate that scientific studies have degenerated to this level of stupidity. I guess we need to look our self in the eyes and ask what is really going on. A vaccine that can not stop transmission of the virus will prevent the mental or psychiatric complications of the infection. Where is the logic?

  6. Tommy Langzik Tommy Langzik Canada says:

    It seems reasonable to at least consider that many of those getting the vaccine were wanting to go back to a "normal" life, trusted their leaders/institutions, and were under the impression that getting the vaccine (especially the 2nd one to be "fully" vaccinated) would enable them to do so.

    One could argue that it's not necessarily the vaccine itself that's responsible for the upbeat mood, but rather the result of the vaccine-taker's belief of their newfound safety, their sense of heroicism ("doing the right thing & saving lives"), and their now reestablished access to a pre-covid social life (ex. allowed to move freely without restrictions, see whoever they want, not have their job/education be under threat, etc).

    As such, this finding may in reality highlight the power of government control/propaganda and the human yearning for freedom rather than showing any direct health benefits of COVID-19 vaccines. Remember the classic saying: "correlation does not equal causation"; while it may be an exciting prospect to have stumbled onto a miracle drug, the reality is that basic common sense points to very glaring and obvious established relationships (which we already know to be true) to explain the outcomes presented in this article/study...

  7. Daniel Seaton Daniel Seaton Australia says:

    Lol this is up there with climate control causing heart attacks,eggs causing blood clots,how anyone can believe this garbage is far gone mentally,spike proteins have cooked their brains.

  8. Ben Wiebe Ben Wiebe Canada says:

    Nothing in this study is credible or useful and it is not science. The author actually Admits that it’s full of selection bias. You can’t make conclusions if there is selection bias.

  9. David Tinker David Tinker United States says:

    "correlation does not equal causation". Unvaccinated brow beat of course they don't feel good. Worthless study. I would be embarrassed to publish such a biased report.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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