Depression rates are now more than double pre-pandemic levels

·2 min read
Younger adults and women were more likely to experience some form of depression, with 43 per cent of women aged 16 to 29 and 26 per cent of men of the same age experiencing symptoms. - Igor Ustynskyy/Getty Images
Younger adults and women were more likely to experience some form of depression, with 43 per cent of women aged 16 to 29 and 26 per cent of men of the same age experiencing symptoms. - Igor Ustynskyy/Getty Images

More than a fifth (21 per cent) of people aged 16 and over in Britain experienced some form of depression between Jan 27 and March 7 this year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from 10 per cent before the coronavirus pandemic, between July 2019 and March 2020.

The ONS analysed responses from 23,935 people aged 16 and over in 2021 and compared them to data collected before and during the pandemic.

Depression rates were based on those who indicated moderate to severe depressive symptoms.

Younger adults and women were more likely to experience some form of depression, with 43 per cent of women aged 16 to 29 and 26 per cent of men of the same age experiencing symptoms.

Among people aged 16 to 39 the figure was 29 per cent, up from 11 per cent, while for those with a disability the figure was 39 per cent, up from 27 per cent.

Separate ONS figures published on Wednesday show that diagnoses of depression by GPs in England between March 23 and Aug 31 last year fell by 23.7 per cent, when compared with the same period in 2019.

Depression accounted for 15.6 per cent of total diagnoses over the period, a rise of 1.3 percentage points.

Those aged 45-54 saw the largest fall in the number of diagnoses, a 30.1 per cent decrease.

GPs seeing fewer cases

Stephen Buckley, head of information, Mind, said: “The fact that GP-diagnosed cases of adult depression have fallen during the pandemic suggests people are not going to their GP for help, perhaps because they’re concerned about placing extra pressure on the NHS.

“This is worrying because we know that left untreated, mental health problems become more difficult and expensive to treat.”

He added the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health cannot be underestimated.

“If you notice changes to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are affecting your daily life, last longer than two weeks, or keep returning, talk to someone you trust, ideally your GP,” he said.

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