Depression rate in the US triples during pandemic, study finds

10 Sep 2020

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People were more likely to suffer symptoms of depression during the pandemic if they experienced Covid-19 stressors. — Dawn.com/File
People were more likely to suffer symptoms of depression during the pandemic if they experienced Covid-19 stressors. — Dawn.com/File

The prevalence of symptoms of depression more than tripled in the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic than before it, a study has found, highlighting the extent to which the health crisis could have a toll on mental health.

The survey study published in JAMA Network Open, an open-access medical journal published by the American Medical Association, also found that people with lower incomes and those exposed to more Covid-19-related stressors were more likely to report depression symptoms than others.

A survey before the pandemic involving nearly 5,000 American adults found that 8.5 per cent of them showed signs of depression such as feeling down or hopeless, low energy, trouble concentrating, or thinking about self-harm.

However, this number rose to 27.8pc when researchers surveyed almost 1,500 American adults about their mental health from March to April of this year. Even more people — almost an additional 25pc —showed milder signs of depression, Time magazine reported.

The findings suggest that "there is a high burden of depression symptoms in the US associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and that this burden falls disproportionately on individuals who are already at increased risk," researchers said.

According to the Time report, people were more likely to suffer symptoms of depression during the pandemic if they experienced “Covid-19 stressors” — including losing a job, the death of a loved one or financial distress.

Women were more likely to experience depression than men, and single people were more likely to suffer depression than married couples. Additionally, having less than $5,000 in household savings was associated with a 50pc greater risk of experiencing depression symptoms, according to the study.

The research found the increase in depression symptom prevalence to be higher than that recorded after previous mass traumatic events, likely reflecting "the far more pervasive influence of Covid-19 and its social and economic consequences".

Last month, official data showed that the proportion of people in the United Kingdom suffering with depression almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

Britain's Office for National Statistics said 19pc of adults reported some form of depression during June, compared with 10pc in the nine months before March 2020. Stress and anxiety were the most common types of depression listed by people, it reported.