Covid pandemic tripled depression rate, study findsOctober 5, 2021
A new study carried out by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH has found that the Covid pandemic has tripled the depression rate among US adults. The study report published in the journal The Lancet Regional Health – Americas suggested that people with lower incomes and who experienced multiple COVID-related stressors were more likely to feel the toll of the pandemic.
According to the study report, 32.8 percent of US adults experienced elevated depressive symptoms in 2021, compared to 27.8 percent of adults in the early months of the pandemic in 2020. In 2019, the percent of US adults who faced depression was just 8.5 percent, which hints at the fact that the pandemic has tripled the depression rate among people in the United States.
“The sustained high prevalence of depression does not follow patterns after previous traumatic events such as Hurricane Ike and the Ebola outbreak. Typically, we would expect depression to peak following the traumatic event and then lower over time. Instead, we found that 12 months into the pandemic, levels of depression remained high,” said study senior author Dr. Sandro Galea, dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at BUSPH.
It should be noted that this is the first nationally representative study which tried to examine the prevalence of depression among people before and after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The study report noted that the burden of depression intensified over the course of the pandemic, and it mainly affected adults who have low income. According to the study report, people who make less than $20,000 in spring 2020 were 2.3 times more likely to experience elevated depressive symptoms, compared to people making $75,000 or more by Spring 2021.
“Low-income populations have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and efforts moving forward should keep this population in mind. Addressing stressors such as job loss, challenges accessing childcare, and difficulties paying rent, will help to improve population mental health and reduce inequities that have deepened during the pandemic,” said Catherine Ettman, lead author of the study, and a doctoral candidate at Brown University School of Public Health and chief of staff and director of strategic initiatives in the Office of the Dean at BUSPH.