1 in 5 Adults Experienced Depression During the Pandemic, Study Finds

A new survey from the Office for National Statistics shows the impact of the coronavirus crisis on Britain's mental health.
August 18, 2020, 2:12pm
1 in 5 Adults Experienced Depression During the Pandemic, Study Finds
Photo: Sian Bradley. 

The number of adults experiencing symptoms of depression doubled during the pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found.

A study that surveyed the same group of 3,527 adults in a period before the pandemic between July 2019 and March 2020, and during the pandemic (March 2020 to June 2020) found that symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, lack of sleep and little interest in activities increased dramatically.

The number of adults experiencing some form of depression rose from 9.7 percent before March, to 19.2 percent during the pandemic – equivalent to a rise from nearly one in five to nearly one in ten.

Women aged between 16 and 39, female, and unable to “afford an unexpected expense”, or disabled were most likely to experience symptoms of depression. Around one in three 16- to 39-year-olds (31 percent) experienced moderate to severe depression during the pandemic, compared to one in nine (10.9 percent) before March.

Nearly 13 percent of the adults surveyed by ONS developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, compared to 6.2 percent of the population who suffered from depression before March.

Sophie Corlett, director of external relations at mental health charity Mind told VICE News: “It’s worrying to see an increase in the number of people experiencing depression. We cannot underestimate the impact that the pandemic has had on the nation’s mental health – whether that’s bereavement, the devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown, or the recession we are now in.

She continued: “Now many emergency measures introduced by government - such as furlough, emergency housing, and better Statutory Sick Pay – have stopped or are winding down, we’re concerned even more people will fall through the gaps. It’s crucial that mental health and wellbeing are put at the centre of the UK government’s ongoing recovery plans, so that we can rebuild as a kinder and fairer society for everyone.”