Study finds, during pandemic, 1 in 8 adults experienced depression
Study finds, during pandemic, 1 in 8 adults experienced depression

TORONTO: According to a recent, extensive study involving more than 20,000 older adults, the pandemic caused depression in about 1 in 8 of them for the first time.

For those who had faced depression in the past, the numbers were even worse. As per a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, nearly half (45%) of this group reported having depression by the fall of 2020.

"The significant mental health toll that the pandemic caused in a previously mentally healthy group of older adults is highlighted by the high rate of first-onset depression in 2020," said Andie MacNeil from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW) and the Institute for Life Course and Aging, University of Toronto.

Although it is commonly known that depression among older adults increased during the pandemic, there have been few studies that have examined the proportion of persons who had the condition for the first time or the proportion of people with a history of the disorder who had a recurrence.

According to research co-author Sapriya Birk, a current medical student at McMaster University in Canada, "those with a history of depression were particularly badly struck by the devastation of the epidemic which upended so many elements of daily life."

The researchers determined that a number of characteristics, including as low income and savings, loneliness, chronic pain, difficulty obtaining healthcare, a history of traumatic childhood experiences, and family conflict, were linked to depression among older persons during the pandemic.

A person's risk of both incident and recurrent depression increased by about 4 to 5 times if they felt lonely in numerous ways, including feeling excluded, lonely, and lacking connection.

"For happiness and mental health, social support and connections are crucial. For people who are isolated, better outreach and assistance are required, "Ying Jiang, senior epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada, a co-author, said.

In the fall of 2020, people who had experienced hardship as children were more prone to experience depression. According to the study, older persons who had family conflict during the pandemic had a more than treble the risk of developing depression compared to their contemporaries who did not.

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