Nearly twice as many people were showing depression symptoms at the height of the UK lockdown compared to the pre-pandemic numbers. Young people were hit the hardest, official data shows.
A new UK survey showed a jump in depression rates during the coronavirus pandemic, reaching 19.2% during lockdown in June, the country's Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. The June numbers are almost twice as high as the ones reported between July 2019 and March 2020, when 9.7% on average complained of depression symptoms.
The researchers quizzed the same group of over 3,500 people, aged 16 and up, before and after the lockdown.
Revisiting the group "provides a unique insight into how their symptoms of depression have changed over time," said one of the study authors, Tim Vizard.
Stress and anxiety
Vizard noted that younger adults, women, disabled people and people with financial issues were the most likely to experience some form of depression during lockdown. Notably, participants aged 16-39 were most likely to be impacted, with nearly one-third reporting depression symptoms.
However, researchers found that all age groups were more likely to feel depressed while in lockdown. Stress and anxiety were the most commonly reported symptoms, according to the study. Only 3.5% of depression sufferers reported improvement during the lockdown.
In the study, scientists also noted that "there could be a variety of reasons for change in depressive symptoms before and during the pandemic, rather than this solely being a result of the coronavirus pandemic."
Recession to make it 'even worse'
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a massive blow to the economy in the UK and across the world, with millions of people isolating themselves from their friends and family to reduce the infection risk.
Commenting on the study, King's College psychiatry professor Simon Wessely noted that the survey was completed before the full brunt of the recession, "when we can expect things to get even worse."
Mental health expert Charley Baker, who works as an associate professor at the University of Nottingham, said that the results were "unsurprising."
"Perhaps we — all of us — need to reach in to proactively support people, rather than expecting people to reach out," she said.
dj/sri (AP, Reuters)