Depression, anxiety fell as US COVID-19 restrictions ended in 2021: CDC data

Depression, anxiety fell as US COVID-19 restrictions ended in 2021: CDC data


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Symptoms of depression and anxiety among U.S. adults fell over the first half of 2021, as Americans received COVID-19 vaccine shots and state lockdowns and other restrictions were lifted. 

According to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Tuesday, increases and decreases in the frequency of reported symptoms at the state and national levels “mirrored the weekly number of new COVID-19 cases during the same period.”

Mississippi was found to be among the states with the largest increase in anxiety and depression percentages, while Florida and New York had the smallest percentage increase in depression and anxiety percentages, respectively. 

There were at least six limitations to the study, the agency noted, including that the fifth decrease in the frequency of symptoms observed through June 2021 occurred before the recent surge in delta variant cases.

The researchers added that delivery systems for mental health care and resources, like telehealth behavioral services, are critical during the pandemic – particularly among populations that were disproportionately impacted by the virus. 

The CDC said that members of populations in harder hit areas might be “more vulnerable to the psychological consequences of COVID-19” and that the mental health impact of the pandemic could have community-specific effects when morbidity and mortality rates are increasing.

“Fluctuations in symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic highlight the importance of real-time monitoring of mental health symptoms. Tracking these outcomes, including by demographic characteristics, can provide early indicators of potential increases in the demand for mental health services and for the health care providers needed to treat persons with clinically significant symptoms,” the study concluded.

Gordon said that crisis intervention services like SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) and the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) reported substantial increases in volume early in the pandemic and pointed out that the CDC, NIMH and other agencies had been working to raise awareness of available mental health resources, including the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK). 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, 24/7. 

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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