Scientific letters

Mood responses to COVID-19: Implications for family practice in South Africa

Charles Van Wijk, Pinky Z. Majola
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 3| a5285 | DOI: | © 2021 Charles van Wijk, Pinky Z. Majola | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 February 2021 | Published: 14 July 2021

About the author(s)

Charles Van Wijk, Department of Psychology, Institute for Maritime Medicine, Simon’s Town, South Africa; and, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Pinky Z. Majola, Department of Psychology, Institute for Maritime Medicine, Simon’s Town, South Africa


The effect of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the mood responses of individuals is an important indicator of how society is coping with the pandemic. Characterising mood responses in a South African sample could prepare clinicians for possible presentations of mental health concerns in general practice. This study described mood responses during COVID-19 Alert Level 1. The sample of 641 participants who completed the Brunel Mood State Scale during November 2020 was drawn from primary healthcare and family medicine clinics and practices in Cape Town. Their mood response profile was described and compared with pre-COVID-19 norms. The mood profile represented an inverse iceberg profile, with mean scores deviating significantly from pre-COVID-19 norms across all six mood dimensions measured. The inverse iceberg profile had been associated with a range of psychopathologies, suggesting an increased risk of psychological disorders. The current profile of mood responses could alert clinicians to the possibility of increased mental health needs of patients. Patient reports of prolonged anxiety and fatigue, particularly when combined with low mood and low vigour, could signal the need for intervention or referral for further mental health support.


COVID-19; lockdown; mental health; mood; fatigue


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