In the clearest link yet between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental illness, researchers have found that depression and anxiety disorders increased dramatically around the world in 2020, with large increases in the countries most affected by the pandemic. .
Cases of major depressive disorder (MDD) could be 28% higher in 2020 than those without the pandemic, and cases of anxiety disorders were 26% higher, according to an analysis of four dozen studies from around the world, which was published on Friday. In the Lancet.
Those with higher infection rates and, in a proxy for the lockdown, had less movement – as measured by cell phone location data – saw large increases in MDD and anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
There was a bigger increase in women than men, the researchers said, because women took on more extra work from the pandemic — including caring for children, caring for sick family members and cooking at home — and spending more time at home. Including cleaning. are more likely to lose their jobs and become victims of domestic violence, which increased during the pandemic.
Young people also faced a large increase in MDD and anxiety disorders because school closures turned them away from friends and because they, like women, faced a higher risk of being fired.
The study results suggest that “there is an urgent need to strengthen mental health systems to address the growing burden of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders worldwide,” said Dr. Damien Santomaro, lead author of the review and a researcher at the University of Queensland School of Public Health, said in a press release. “Even before the pandemic, mental health care systems in most countries have historically been under-resourced and disorganized in their service delivery.”
129 million. That’s how many additional cases of MDD and anxiety disorders were in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, according to the researchers’ model of cases that would occur in a typical year.
Research has shown an increasingly strong link between mental health and COVID-19. According to a July study in JAMA Psychiatry, people with mental disorders were, after taking other health conditions, 1.4 times more likely to die from Covid-19 — 1.7 times more likely to have a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Researchers in a review of 215 studies published in the BMJ Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that nearly a quarter of people with COVID-19 showed signs of depression, and 16% showed signs of anxiety. According to a study of more than 137,000 women in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, visits to postpartum depression between March and November 2020 increased by 39% compared to before the pandemic.
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