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Reports Of Anxiety & Depression Are Spiking During The COVID-19 Crisis, Data Shows

In a new survey with the Census Bureau, adults over 18 have shown a significant increase for symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder.

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A new survey has found that nearly 30% of adults are showing symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder during the coronavirus pandemic—that figure represents double the number of adults who reported similar symptoms in 2014. 

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) partnered with the Census Bureau to create the Household Pulse Survey—a weekly 20-minute online questionnaire designed to provide data on several outcomes of the crisis, including mental health. The survey included questions about spending, employment status, housing, and mental and physical health.

The survey was first distributed on April 23 and will continue for 90 days. More than 42,000 people responded to the latest survey between May 7 and 12.

The NCHS said questions about mental health focused on how participants felt over the last seven days, as opposed to the usual 14 days. Questions included “How often have you been bothered by, having little interest or pleasure in doing things?” and “How often have you been bothered by the following problems: Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge.” A selection of answers included “not at all, several days, more than half the days, or nearly every day.”

People between ages 18 and 29 showed the highest percentage of symptoms for both anxiety disorder and depressive disorder, hovering between 43% and 47%, followed by people in the 30 to 39 age range, the survey found. Women and people with less than a high school diploma reported a slightly higher percentage of symptoms.

For comparison, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorders affect nearly 18% of adults each year. The Washington Post reported that a similar survey in 2014 found the percentage of people experiencing depression was nearly half of the figure in the recent NCHS study. 

With heightened anxiety and fear during the pandemic, the toll on mental health has been a point of conversation—especially for frontline workers, medical professionals, and children. 

Another concern surrounds the racial disparities in coronavirus cases and the toll of the virus on mental health. People of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in the U.S. Black and Latinx communities are dying or being hospitalized from coronavirus at higher rates, according to data compiled by Mother Jones. Several mental health resources are available that are dedicated to communities of color.

Domestic violence victims have also been another concern since the pandemic forced families to shelter-in-place, raising the chances of abuse. Several shelters closed nationwide, and advocacy groups reported spikes in domestic violence calls as early as March. 

The CDC recommends taking care of your body during a crisis, eating healthy foods, avoiding drugs and alcohol, exercising, and sleeping. The organization also provides several resources for crisis management and coping with stress

To learn more about coping with anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Anxiety and Depression Association of Americaprovides information here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, text HOME to 741741 for free counseling through Crisis Text Line.