Due to the pandemic, cases of depressive disorders worldwide increased by 27.6% and those of anxiety 25.6%, according to a study published in The Lancet. However, these figures climb to 34.8% and 31.7%, respectively, in Latin America and the Caribe. The causes of this increase were related to “SARS-CoV-2 infection rates and the decrease in human mobility.”
Depression is an emotional disorder that causes a constant feeling of sadness and disinterest in different activities, in addition to affecting thoughts and behavior, generating physical and emotional problems. Meanwhile, anxiety arises in the middle of daily life as episodes, when intense worries and fears gain ground in the face of daily activities. There can even be strong increases that end in panic attacks. It is worth noting that Both pathologies measured in this study require treatment and support from specialists.
“We estimate that the places most affected by the pandemic in 2020, measured by the decrease in human mobility and the daily rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection, caused greater increases in the prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders,” he says. The document. And it highlights that, worldwide, Covid-19 caused “53.2 million additional cases of depressive disorder (3,152.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) and “76.2 million additional cases of anxiety disorders (4802.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) ”.
Increase in depressive disorder and anxiety: women and young people were the most affected
This study, which brought together some 50 specialists from around the world, evaluated not only the increase in the number of registered cases of depressive and anxiety disorders, but also estimated the years lived with disabilities or with sequelae due to these pathologies.
“Before adjusting for the pandemic, the estimated global prevalence of depressive disorder in 2020 was 2,470.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, equivalent to 193 million people,” says the document and highlights that after this situation “it was 3,152.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which is equivalent to 246 million people ”.
“We estimate 53.2 million additional cases of depressive disorder worldwide in 2020, 682.4 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, with an increase of 27.6%,” the study warns and notes that women, with 35.5 million additional cases (+ 29.8%) had a greater increase in prevalence than men, with 17.7 million (+ 24%).
Meanwhile, with regard to anxiety disorder, the specialists highlighted that, before adjusting for the pandemic, “the estimated global prevalence was 3,824.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is equivalent to 298 million people.” However, after the emergence of Covid-19, that figure jumped to “4,802.4 per 100,000, equivalent to 374 million people.”
“We estimate 76.2 million additional cases of anxiety disorders in 2020″ Said the specialists, a number that translates into 977.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants; that is to say, a rise of 25.6% worldwide. As in depression, women showed a greater increase, with 51.8 million additional cases (1,332.1 per 100,000 women – 27.9%), in relation to men, who showed an increase in additional cases of 24 , 4 million (625 per 100,000 men – 21.7%).
“Women were more affected by the pandemic than men because of the propensity for additional responsibilities caregiver and home due to school closings or family members’ discomfort, “in addition to” financial disadvantage due to lower wages, less savings, and less secure employment than their male counterparts, “the scientists warned. They also highlighted that they could even be “victims of domestic violence, the prevalence of which increased during periods of confinement.”
Regarding the ages, the researchers assured that “younger age groups were more affected than older age groups for depressive and anxiety disorders”. “With school closings and broader social restrictions in place, young people have not been able to meet in physical spaces, which affects their ability to learn and interact with their peers. What’s more, young people are more likely to be unemployed during and after economic crises than older people”, They pointed out.
The post-pandemic mental health challenge
With this panorama, the specialists warned of the need to implement “Mitigation strategies” in the face of the consequences that the pandemic will leave, with the aim of promoting mental well-being.
“Social restrictions, school and business closures, loss of livelihoods, decreased economic activity, and shifting priorities of governments trying to control outbreaks have the potential to substantially affect the mental health of people. the population ”, explains the document that also adds inequalities as major catalysts of these disorders.
In this tone, the scientists pointed out that the pandemic caused a scenario of greater urgency for the implementation of policies to strengthen their mental health systems, since “taking no action may not be an option”.