Study: Getting the Latest COVID Vaccine Could Improve Depression and Lead to Better Sleep

Updated: Dec. 18, 2023

According to a December 2023 study, vaccinated individuals reported lower anxiety, fewer depressive symptoms, and less insomnia compared to those who weren’t vaccinated. 

While we have moved past the initial alarming stages of the COVID-19 epidemic, the virus remains a concern. Recent data indicates an increase in positive tests and hospitalizations during the first week of December, prompting the CDC to encourage people, especially with the holidays approaching, to receive the updated vaccine. However, just over 17% of U.S. adults aged 18 and above have taken this crucial step.

Though reasons for vaccine hesitancy vary, a recent study in Scientific Reports suggests that getting vaccinated might not only benefit physical health but also positively impact mental well-being. Published on December 12, 2023, the study revealed that vaccinated individuals reported lower anxiety, fewer depressive symptoms, and less insomnia compared to those who weren’t vaccinated. 

The study included nearly 10,000 Chinese individuals aged 18-75 with an average age of around 35. About three-quarters of the participants were vaccinated, while the rest were not. All included answered a survey that used different scales and tests to evaluate their levels of anxiety, depression, and sleep issues between May 2020 and July 2021. In all three gauges of mental health, participants who were vaccinated reported fewer symptoms associated with the conditions and were at a lower risk for developing issues in the future.   

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The study was prompted by previous research indicating increased psychiatric disorders during the pandemic. It aligns with global findings suggesting that vaccination may alleviate the mental toll of COVID. The results for this study at least were astoundingly clear: Vaccination, especially during the height of the pandemic after the first vaccines were approved, improved mental health significantly. The vaccinated individuals in the study had an 86.2% lower risk of anxiety, a 75.2% lower risk of insomnia, and an 80.8% reduced risk of depressive symptoms compared to those who were unvaccinated. Even after adjusting for factors like education, job status, marital status, and monthly income—known influencers of mental health—the connection between vaccination and improved mental well-being remained strong. Additionally, vaccinated individuals demonstrated lower levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and reduced feelings of loneliness. 

According to the study, getting vaccinated was good for an individual’s health, but it also conveyed positive effects on the community as a whole. “Previous studies have shown that vaccination can block the transmission of pathogens in addition to protecting oneself. It can not only reduce the economic burden caused by diseases but also form a protective barrier against other infections and further alleviate the pressure on public health and psychological problems,” concluded the researchers in the study. 

Although the study was conducted in China from mid-2020 to mid-2021, the results suggest that vaccination, particularly for those who haven’t received it, could positively impact the mental health of people getting vaccinated in the future. ”Our research may provide favorable conditions for improving vaccination (programs) in China and worldwide in the future,” said the researchers. With new variants emerging and updated vaccines available, if you’re grappling with anxiety or sleep loss due to COVID and haven’t received an initial dose or the updated vaccine, it could be worth a shot.