Sense of Control and Depression during Public Health Restrictions and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rachel Msetfi, Diana Kornbrot, Yemaya J. Halbrook, Salha Senan

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Depression rates have increased significantly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of factors implicated in this increase, including stress, fear, social isolation and the psychological impact of public health restrictions. The main purpose of the current cross-sectional survey study was to examine the relationship between the experience of public health restrictions, the sense of control and depression, both during and after restrictions were lifted. A survey methodology was chosen, with data collected in the Republic of Ireland at two time points (January 2022 and May 2022). Time 1 participants (n = 314) were invited to repeat the measures 5 months later, with 172 agreeing to be recontacted, and 47 participants completing all measures at two time points. Findings showed that both the sense of control, in relation to perceived constraints, w = 0.43, and the experience of restrictions, w = 0.14, predicted depression at Time 1. Participants were less likely to be depressed at Time 2 and had a stronger sense of control. The Time 1 sense of control through perceived constraints predicted depression at Time 2, w = 0.45. Overall, these data show that public health restrictions and the sense of control are linked and that the sense of control has a powerful and long-lasting effect on depression status in restricted conditions, even once these have been lifted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14429
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH)
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022


  • depression
  • pandemic
  • public health restrictions
  • sense of control
  • Public Health
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Depression/epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control


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