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CDC: Depression, anxiety continue rise in U.S. due to COVID-19 pandemic

New CDC data suggests depression and anxiety are on the rise in the United States due to the pandemic. Photo by Sasint/Pixabay
New CDC data suggests depression and anxiety are on the rise in the United States due to the pandemic. Photo by Sasint/Pixabay

March 26 (UPI) -- More than 40% of adults in the United States experienced symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders at some point between August 2020 and the end of January, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the roughly six-month period, the percentage of adults reporting symptoms of these disorders nationally increased from to 42% from 36%, roughly a 17% jump, the data showed.

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The percentage of adults across the country who took a prescription for one of these disorders during this time rose to 25% from 22%.

As of the end of January, 12% of adults of all ages nationally indicated that they needed mental health treatment, but did not receive it, up from 9% in early August.

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The trends are likely linked with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said.

"The spread of disease and increase in deaths during large outbreaks of transmissible diseases is often associated with fear and grief," the researchers wrote.

"Social restrictions, limits on operating nonessential businesses and other measures to reduce [the spread of the virus] can lead to isolation and unemployment or underemployment, further increasing the risk for mental health problems," they said.

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Depression is a mental health disorder in which people experience persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, while anxiety disorder typically causes extreme fear or worry.

Collectively, up to 40 million adults in the United States have one or both of these disorders, which are often linked, the CDC estimates.

The new CDC findings are based on a survey of nearly 800,000 adults conducted with the U.S. Census Bureau.

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The analysis is one of several studies and surveys that have reported a rise in mental health problems across the country since the start of the pandemic.

The percentage of adults who reported symptoms of anxiety disorder during the previous seven days increased to 37% from 31% between Aug. 19, 2020, and Feb. 1, the new CDC data showed.

In addition, the percentage of adults who reported symptoms of a depressive disorder during the past seven days increased to 30% from 25% over the same period.

"These findings are consistent with results from surveys conducted early in the COVID-19 pandemic that showed an increased prevalence of mental health symptoms, especially among young adults," the CDC researchers wrote.

"The more recent results indicate an increasing prevalence over time later in 2020, which remained increased in early 2021," they said.

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