COVID-19 conspiracy theories linked to depression

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

The Global COVID-19 pandemic has been marked by a significant minority of people expressing conspiratorial beliefs.

Scientists from the Medical University of Silesia found that these beliefs may be harmful, especially to those who are prone to anxiety and depression.

The research is published in Frontiers in Psychiatry and was conducted by Dr. Paweł Dębski et al.

Surveys have shown that huge numbers of people are open to conspiratorial beliefs about COVID-19.

A survey in the US found that around a quarter of Americans believe that the outbreak was “intentionally planned by powerful people.”

In major European counties (Germany, France, Italy, and the UK), between 30% and 40% of people believe that the government is taking the chance to control citizens, or working with the pharmaceutical industry to conceal vaccine effects.

In the study, the team recruited nearly 700 volunteers and asked them about their beliefs.

They developed and validated a new way of measuring belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories, the COVID-19 Conspiratorial Beliefs Scale.

They also used the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (which measured the level of anxiety and depression).

The team found that the severity of anxiety increases in those who express a belief in conspiracy theories. There is a very big increase in the severity of depression symptoms.

Previous polls show that tens of millions of people are open to belief in some level of conspiracy as a result of the COVID epidemic.

This work now shows for the first time that these people are more at risk of more serious anxiety or depression symptoms than the rest of the population.

And as the WHO has indicated, false beliefs may also put the rest of the population at risk.

The most widely believed COVID-19 conspiracy theories (in order of belief) were:

SARS-CoV-2 tests are unreliable, they may be positive in the case of infection with another virus;

Governments deliberately spread false information about COVID-19 in order to conceal the actual state of the pandemic;

Vitamins and minerals supplementation can cure SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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