Number of UK adults with depression doubles during coronavirus pandemic

The number of adults suffering from depression has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that nearly one in 10 (9.7 per cent) British adults experienced some sort of depression between July 2019 and March 2020.

But when the same group was assessed again in June, the figure had risen to 19.2 per cent – nearly one in five.

The majority (84 per cent) of people experiencing some sort of depression cited stress and anxiety affecting their wellbeing, and 42 per cent said their relationships had been affected.

The ONS research examined data from the same 3,500 British adults both before and during the pandemic.

Statisticians found those most likely to say they had been affected by depression in June were younger adults (aged 16 to 39), women, those “unable to afford an unexpected expense”, and disabled people.

Depressive symptoms include low mood and loss of interest and enjoyment in ordinary things.

Researchers also examined the levels of depression – which are classed as mild, moderate or severe depression.

One in eight adults (12.9 per cent) developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, while 6.2 per cent already were already experiencing symptoms at this level.

Of those experiencing moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, 62 per cent said they felt lonely “often or always”, compared with 15 per cent of those with no or mild depressive symptoms.

Just 3.5 per cent saw an improvement during the same timeframe.

Tim Vizard, from the ONS, said: “Today’s research provides an insight into the mental health of adults during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Revisiting this same group of adults before and during the pandemic provides a unique insight into how their symptoms of depression have changed over time.

“Nearly one in five adults were experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic, almost doubling from around one in 10 before.

“Adults who are young, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.”

Commenting on the figures Dr Billy Boland, chairman of the General Adult Faculty at 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.

“Isolation, bereavement and financial insecurity are some of the reasons why the nation’s mental health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic.

“The government must speed-up the investment to mental health services if we are to treat the growing numbers of people living with depression and other mental illnesses.”

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “These statistics underline the mental health impact on the population at large, and also highlight the groups in society who more be more vulnerable to developing mental health problems, such as young adults, disabled people and those facing financial instability.

“Mental health problems can affect every aspect of a person’s life.

“It’s crucial that people seek help to manage depressive symptoms and are able to access services when they need them to prevent further deterioration in their health.

Bipolar disorder –,,,,,

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) –,,,,,

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) –,,,,,

Dissociation and dissociative disorders – Clinic for Dissociative Studies, Epilepsy Action, European Society for Trauma and Dissociation, First Person Plural, The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder (NEAD), National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors (PODS), Survivors UK, The Survivors Trust

Eating disorders – You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling their adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

Hoarding – British Psychological Society (BPS), Rainbow Red, 0845 390 6232,,,,

Hypomania and mania – Be Mindful, Bipolar UK , British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) 01455 883 300,,,,,

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – 0845 390 6232,

Paranoia  –,,,

Postnatal depression & perinatal mental health – Action Postpartum Psychosis (APP), The Association for Post Natal Illness, Birth trauma association, The Breastfeeding Network 0300 100 0212, Elefriends, Family Action, Family Lives,, The Lullaby Trust, Maternal OCD, The Miscarriage Association, NCT, Sands, Start4Life and Tommy’s

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Anxiety UK, ASSIST trauma care, Birth Trauma, Combat Stress, Disaster Action, EMDR UK & Ireland, Elefriends, Freedom From Torture, Lifecentre, Moodjuice, PTSD resolution, Survivors Trust

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), IAPT, International Association for Premenstrual Disorders and National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS),,,,,

Schizoaffective disorder,,,,,,,

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) 0800 58 58 58, [email protected],,,,

Tardive,,,, NHS Direct 0845 46 47

“We anticipate a significant increase in demand for services and support due to the pandemic, but it’s crucial to recognise that the responsibility for mental health goes beyond the NHS and demands a cross-government approach.

“Support with employment, housing and financial problems for example must all be prioritised now the country is in recession and recognised for their role in supporting people’s mental health during a time of great uncertainty and strain.”

– The Every Mind Matters portal has information coronavirus and wellbeing and the charity Samaritans have a freephone number 116 123


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