By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Cases of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders increased by more than a quarter worldwide in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the first global estimates of impacts of the pandemic on mental health, published in The Lancet.
In 2020, cases of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders increased by 28% and 26%, respectively. Women were affected more than men, and younger people were more affected than older age groups. Countries with high COVID-19 infection rates and major reductions in the movement of people – a consequence of measures such as lockdowns and school closures – had the greatest increases in prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders – which can increase the risk of other health outcomes such as suicide – were major contributors to the global burden of disease, affecting millions of men and women of all ages around the world.
Lead author Dr Damian Santomauro, of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Australia, said: “Our findings highlight an urgent need to strengthen mental health systems in order to address the growing burden of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders worldwide. Promoting mental wellbeing, targeting factors contributing to poor mental health that have been made worse by the pandemic, and improving treatment for those who develop a mental disorder should be central to efforts to improve support services. Even before the pandemic, mental health-care systems in most countries have historically been under-resourced and disorganised in their service delivery. Meeting the added demand for mental health services due to COVID-19 will be challenging, but taking no action should not be an option.”
Until now, no studies had analysed the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders in 2020. Most previous work consisted of surveys in specific locations over a short time period.
The new study is the first to assess global impacts of the pandemic on major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders, quantifying the prevalence and burden of the disorders by age, sex, and location in 204 countries and territories in 2020.
A systematic literature review was performed to identify population survey data published between January 1, 2020, and January 29, 2021. Eligible studies reported prevalence of depressive or anxiety disorders that were representative of the general population and had a pre-pandemic baseline. Using a disease modelling meta-analysis tool, data from eligible studies was used to estimate changes in prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders due to COVID-19 based on age, sex, and location, including in locations for which no eligible studies were available. Estimates of daily COVID-19 infection rate and movement of people were used as indicators of the impact of the pandemic on populations.
The systematic review identified 5,683 unique data sources, of which 48 (one of which reported across two regions) met inclusion criteria. Most studies were from Western Europe (22) and high-income North America (14), with others from Australasia (5), high-income Asia Pacific (5), East Asia (2), and central Europe (1).
The meta-analysis indicates that increased COVID-19 infection rate and reduced movement of people were associated with increased prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders, suggesting that countries hit hardest by the pandemic in 2020 had the greatest increases in prevalence of the disorders.
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