Cases of depression have tripled during the Covid-19 pandemic


A large study finds a dramatic increase in the number of adults in the world reporting symptoms of depression during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of adults experiencing depression in the world has tripled, according to a major study. Researchers estimate that more than 1 in 4 adults now report experiencing symptoms of depression.
Depression in the general population after prior large-scale traumatic events has been observed to, at most, double.
While reports of depression have increased in response to earlier crises, such as the 9/11 attack and the spread of Ebola in West Africa, the extent of this recent finding is something new.
The BU study is the first large-scale investigation into America’s mental health in response to Covid-19.
To measure the prevalence of depression symptoms among the population, the researchers worked with mental health professionals’ leading tool for this purpose: the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).
The researchers used the 2017–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) as a baseline measurement of depression rates before the beginning of the pandemic. A total of 5,065 individuals responded to that survey.
They compared these data with the findings of the Covid-19 and Life Stressors Impact on Mental Health and Well-being (CLIMB) study, which surveyed 1,441 U.S. adults between March 31 and April 13, 2020. This study also used PHQ-9, facilitating the comparison of changes in the prevalence of depression among the population.
Although the 2020 survey took place relatively early in the pandemic, by the time it was complete, stay-at-home advisories and shelter-in-place orders were in place for about 96% of the public.
The CLIMB survey also questioned participants regarding the various stressors associated with the pandemic. These stressors included the death of a friend or loved one and financial worries, such as the loss, or potential loss, of personal income. The survey found that symptoms of depression had risen in response to the pandemic across all demographic groups.
According to the survey participants, the predominant driver of depression was concern regarding personal financial well-being. Lead study author Catherine Ettman says, “Persons who were already at risk before Covid-19, with fewer social and economic resources, were more likely to report probable depression.”


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