Aside from killing nearly 400,000 Americans to date and wreaking havoc on the country’s economy, the COVID-19 pandemic is also taking a heavy toll on mental health. That’s according to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, showing that more than 4 in 10 U.S. adults had developed symptoms of depression or anxiety by the end of 2020, a sharp increase over the results of a comparable survey conducted in the first half of 2019.
The latest findings are derived from the Household Pulse Survey, which has been launched to produce data on the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on American households. A total of 60,000 Americans were surveyed about their mental health between December 9 and 21, asked to report how often they have felt down, depressed, hopeless or anxious in the last week, how often they have been unable to stop worrying or shown little interest or pleasure in doing things – all symptoms that have been shown to be associated with diagnoses of generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder.
As the following chart shows, the share of respondents showing signs of anxiety or depression has nearly quadrupled compared to results obtained before the pandemic. As hundreds of thousands have died and millions have lost their jobs, Americans are facing a plethora of uncertainties with respect to their and their families’ health and financial wellbeing, worries which are only exacerbated when dealt with alone amid a time of social distancing.