Depression rates double among UK adults, pandemic study reveals

Depression rates among UK adults have “doubled” throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that one in five people now suffer from depressive symptoms, compared to one in 10 before the outbreak.

The alarming figures are based on a survey of more than 3,500 adults across the UK. Each was asked to complete a questionnaire in July 2019 about their mental health and was followed up again in June 2020.

The question sheet asked participants to consider the previous 14 days and describe how often they experienced symptoms associated with depression, such as significant changes in sleep, appetite, mood or interest and enjoyment in doing things.

Based on the answers, it was concluded that almost two in 10 (20 per cent) adults “met the criteria for depression”. People under the age of 40, women, and those with disabilities or financial strains were most likely to report depressive symptoms.

Commenting on the findings, expert Dr Billy Boland, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The doubling in the numbers of people experiencing depressive symptoms is another warning of the looming mental health crisis and the tsunami of referrals we are expecting over the coming months.”

Claire Murdoch, national mental health director for the NHS, added: “The pandemic has turned lives upside down, and for some people it will have put greater strain on their mental health, and while some people will have had understandable concerns about seeking help during lockdown, NHS services have been available for those who need them.”

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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