October 13, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic led to sharp rise in depressive, anxiety disorders worldwide

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, finds that cases of major depressive and anxiety disorders increased by more than a quarter worldwide in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the findings:


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  • There was an additional 53.2 million cases (a 27.6% increase) of major depressive disorder and an additional 76.2 million cases (a 25.6% increase) of anxiety disorders.
  • For both disorders, women were affected more than men, and younger people were affected more than older age groups.
  • Countries with high COVID-19 infection rates and major reductions in the movement of people—a consequence of  lockdowns and school closures—had the greatest increases in major depressive and anxiety disorders.

This is the first study to assess the global (204 countries and territories) impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on major depressive and anxiety disorders, the authors say.

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