The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be associated with a higher burden of depressive symptoms than might have been predicted in comparison with earlier disasters and society-wide disruptive events, such as the September 11th attacks. Since April 2020, self-reported symptoms of depression have increased over the previous year, and remain high. A survey1 published in The Lancet Regional Health – Americas has shown that the prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms has persisted throughout the year April 2020 – April 2021. Those who reported multiple COVID-19-related stressors, such as death of a close family member, job loss, etc. were more likely to experience heightened depressive symptoms, and the overall burden of depression falls more heavily on low-income persons. That is, while the experience of depressive symptoms increased overall, the gap between high- and low-income populations grew, both in health and in experience of stressors.
The primary recommendation from this study is that because depression disparities are increasing, more emphasis should be placed on directing attention and health care resources to persons with low income or other barriers to accessing mental health care.
- C.K. Ettman, G.H. Cohen, S.M. Abdalla et al., Persistent depressive symptoms during COVID-19: a national, population-representative, longitudinal study of U.S. adults, The Lancet Regional Health – Americas, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lana.2021. 100091