The global pandemic has had catastrophic damage all over the world, impacting people’s health, jobs and finances. It has also had a huge effect on mental wellbeing, with depression rates tripling from before Covid-19 hit.
According to a recent study from Boston University, eight per cent of US adults experienced depression prior to the world being affected by coronavirus. This figure then soared to 28per cent between March and April 2020 when Covid-19 caused global lockdowns.
The researchers, who published their study in the medical journal The Lancet Regional Health, found this figure continued to rise as Covid-19 maintained its hold, reaching 32 per cent a year later.
Speaking with CNBC Make It, Dr Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, said depression rates typically increase during a traumatic event but then tend to level out after a while.
He stated: “It is unusual to see sustained levels of depression 12 months into a traumatic experience.”
However, he noted the problem with Covid-19 is that it is “unique in its ongoing nature”, which has meant people have not been able to find relief from the anxiety, fear, sadness and feelings of hopelessness.
The study, Depression and Anxiety Disorders During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Knowns and Unknowns, estimated an additional 53.2 million people suffered from a major depressive disorder during the pandemic, while 76.2 million extra individuals experienced anxiety disorders.
The authors exclaimed: “These findings are all the more concerning because depressive and anxiety disorders were already leading causes of disability worldwide.”
In another study entitled Global Prevalence and Burden of Depressive and Anxiety Disorders in 204 Countries and Territories in 2020 Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, researchers found two factors tended to impact depression rates the most. These were infection numbers and reductions in human mobility.
Places that had soaring rates of infection, resulting in more deaths and illnesses and having to be locked down for longer, experienced the greatest increases in major depressive disorders and anxiety conditions.
The study also showed females were more likely to be emotionally affected by the pandemic than males, causing a widening gap between the sexes of the prevalence of mental health disorders.
This “was anticipated because females are more likely to be affected by the social and economic consequences of the pandemic”, the report stated, adding: “Additional carer and household responsibilities due to school closures or family members becoming unwell are more likely to fall on women.”
As well as this, females were more likely to have faced financial difficulties during the pandemic, due to the lack of employment security, lower wages and reduced savings. It also found domestic violence increased over the last 18 months, as a result of household pressures and long periods of having to stay at home enabling this to go under the radar more easily.
Another group of people the pandemic has particularly affected is youngsters. According to UNESCO, 1.6 billion students received partial education in 2020, and social restrictions have meant they have been unable to form peer interactions.
Prior to this study, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention revealed anxiety severity scores rose by 13 per cent in the US from August to December 2020 before dropping by 26.8 per cent until June 2021.
The findings showed subsequent increases and decreases continued to occur, reflecting the waves of the pandemic and the daily number of Covid-19 cases.
This information can help shape mental health support in the future by offering increased outreach during peak times of coronavirus spread.
“Fluctuations in symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic highlight the importance of real-time monitoring of mental health symptoms. Tracking these outcomes, including by demographic characteristics, can provide early indicators of potential increases in the demand for mental health services and for the health care providers needed to treat persons with clinically significant symptoms,” the report stated.
Sunday (October 10th) marked World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of wellbeing difficulties and the importance of reaching out for help.
The UK, along with the rest of the world, is still facing challenges as a result of coronavirus, with the Mental Health Foundation revealing nearly half the population have experienced worry or anxiety due to the pandemic.
It stated that young people, those with pre-existing mental health problems, anyone suffering from disabilities, single parents, transgender people, those who are unemployed, and BAME communities have been most likely to suffer from mental health difficulties during the pandemic.
Buying CBD products is one way those struggling with anxiety can relieve stress, with CBD and turmeric capsules easing emotional symptoms and lifting moods.