The proportion of people over the age of 16 who have experienced some form of depression has more than doubled since before the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Figures released on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that between January 27th and March 7th, 21 per cent of over-16s, which the ONS describes as “adult”, in Great Britain had “experienced some form of depression”. The British government’s statistics authority noted it was “more than double” that observed before the coronavirus pandemic, when between July 2019 and March 2020 that figure was 10 per cent.
The proportion was also two per cent higher than in November (19 per cent), during which England had come out of tiered restrictions and into a month-long second lockdown. Women under 30 were almost twice (43 per cent) as likely to feel depressed during that time than men (26 per cent) of the same age bracket.
The 16- to 39-year-old bracket saw the most dramatic increase in the time period, from 11 per cent to 29 per cent, with 16- to 29-year-olds more likely to experience depression in early 2021 than any other age group (34 per cent). The older generations coped better, with the rate for the over-70s going from five per cent before the pandemic to 10 per cent earlier this year.
There also appeared to be a correlation between financial insecurity and increased depression during the pandemic. Thirty-five per cent who said they would not be able to afford an unanticipated expense of £850 ($1,182) had symptoms of depression earlier this year, up from 21 per cent before the outbreak. For those that could afford a surprise financial outlay, that number only increased from five per cent to 13 per cent pre- and during the pandemic.
Also, almost three times as many people who did not own their own homes (31 per cent) had experienced depression than those who did (13 per cent).
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The report noted, however, that despite the doubling of people experiencing depressive symptoms, the number of diagnoses by GPs for depression had decreased when compared with the same period in 2019, “broadly in line with a fall in the overall number of GP diagnoses”.
Similar polls have also found increases in mental health problems since the pandemic began, including the number of people seeking help with suicidal thoughts tripling and an increase in people experiencing anxiety.
Children have also been hard hit, with one London psychologist saying in February that the lack of contact with friends, the suspension of sports, and the closure of schools as a result of lockdown was “damaging” children.
“One can only say the major factor across it all is pandemic — the lack of activities, the lack of schooling, the lack of opportunities for these young people and probably a deterioration of wellbeing of their parents not being able to cope,” Dr Omer Moghraby had said.
That same month, Dr John Wright had reported an increase in children arriving at his A&E in Bradford with mental health problems, including self-harming. Dr Wright had observed that before the pandemic, children needed help for mental health issues once or twice a week, but “since the summer it’s been more like once or twice a day. Some as young as 10 have cut themselves, taken overdoses, or tried to asphyxiate themselves. There was even one child aged eight.”
A report from mid-February found that the number of pre-teens harming themselves had doubled in six years.
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