Tuesday Sep 20 2022
Web Desk

Depression might be turning into a public health crisis: US study

Web Desk
A sad woman lying on the couch. — Unsplash
A sad woman lying on the couch. — Unsplash

  • Rate of depression, its severity has increased after COVID-19 pandemic.
  • There was significant escalation of depression from 2015 to 2019.
  • Highest increase in depression was found in lower socioeconomic class

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine has shown that the rate of depression and its severity has increased after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study authors said that the consequences of the pandemic are not crystal clear but estimates can be used to quantify the impact of the pandemic on mental health, said Renee D. Goodwin, an adjunct professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and professor of Epidemiology at The City University of New York and the lead author of the study.

The research analysed the US population and confirmed that there was a significant escalation of depression from 2015 to 2019, "reflecting a public health crisis" even before the pandemic set foot.

“The net effect of these trends suggests an accelerating public health crisis, and that parity and public-service announcement efforts have not achieved equity in depression treatment," the lead author said.

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The data from the 2015-2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health was studied. Depression rates were found to be the highest in the age group 18-25 (17%) in 2020. Out of all the Americans surveyed, 9% had experienced at least one major depressive episode within the past year.

The results showed that most adolescents going through depression did not talk to anyone about their symptoms and thus did not receive any treatment.

The highest increase in depression was found in the lower socioeconomic class, that is, people with the lowest income bracket. Depression was also found to be higher in women than men.

Goodwin said that untreated depression in young adults was worrisome because it was a predictor of increased risk of additional mental health issues for them in the future.

She said that we urgently need "community-based, public-facing campaigns that promote help-seeking, early intervention, prevention and education about depression".