Depression doubles during coronavirus pandemic

Twice as many adults in the United Kingdom are reporting symptoms of depression now compared with this time last year, new Office for National Statistics figures suggest.

Almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression, indicated by moderate to severe depressive symptoms, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (June 2020). This had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).

The ONS research examined data from the same 3,500 British adults both before and during the pandemic. Statisticians found those most likely to say they had been affected by depression in June were younger adults (aged 16 to 39), women, those “unable to afford an unexpected expense”, and disabled people.

Looking at change in depressive symptoms before and during the pandemic, one in eight adults (12.9%) developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during this period, while a further 6.2% of the population continued to experience this level of depressive symptoms. Around 1 in 25 adults (3.5%) saw an improvement over this period.

Depressive symptoms include low mood and loss of interest and enjoyment in ordinary things.

Researchers also examined the levels of depression – which are classed as mild, moderate or severe depression.

One in eight adults (12.9%) developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, while 6.2% already were already experiencing symptoms at this level.

Of those experiencing moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, 62% said they felt lonely “often or always”, compared with 15% of those with no or mild depressive symptoms.

Tim Vizard, Principal Research Officer, at the Office for National Statistics said:  “Today’s research provides an insight into the mental health of adults during the coronavirus pandemic. Revisiting this same group of adults before and during the pandemic provides a unique insight into how their symptoms of depression have changed over time.

“Almost 1 in 5 adults were experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic, almost doubling from around one in 10 before the pandemic. Adults who were young, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.”