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University students are a vulnerable population for a range of mental health conditions, but primarily for anxiety and depression. In the light of existing literature, we have reasons to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the mental health of university students, especially in terms of anxiety and depression. Hence, this study sets out to investigate the prevalence of anxiety and depression among university students of Pakistan during the COVID-19 pandemic and explore the related risk factors. To achieve this, a standardized survey questionnaire employing Generalized Anxiety Disorder questionnaire (GAD-7) and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) to assess the symptoms of anxiety and depression respectively was generated with Google Forms and was spread among students via social media platforms. A total of 205 participants studying in Pakistan completed the survey. 50% of the respondents reported moderate to severe levels of anxiety and 60% reported moderate to very severe levels of depression. Pearson’s Correlation revealed risk factors as being a female, lack of exercise, unstable sleep schedule, living alone, being home quarantined, following the news about COVID-19, and future academic concerns. This study is proof that anxiety and depression are an alarming threat to university students during the COVID19 pandemic. In these unprecedented times, it is important that the mental health of university students be monitored, and they be provided with psychosocial support, psychological services, and psychoeducation to help mitigate the mental health implication of the COVID-19 pandemic.
KEYWORDS: COVID-19, Coronavirus, University students, Pakistan, Depression, Anxiety, Mental Health, GAD-7, PHQ-9.