EVANSTON, Ill. — People aged over 40 had far lower levels of anxiety and depression during the pandemic than their younger peers.
In fact, more than one in three young adults were highly stressed during the pandemic, according to a new study.
High levels of anxiety and depression were identified early in the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of up to six-fold increase from prior year levels.
A new study discovered that anxiety and depression were significantly higher among adults ages 18 to 39 compared with adults aged 40 and older during the pandemic period.
They found that in these young adults, 40 percent had anxiety and 33 percent had depression, compared with those over 40 where 31 percent had anxiety and 24 percent had depression.
These levels also declined throughout the pandemic period for those aged 40 years and older but remained elevated for younger adults.
Additionally, they found that younger adults’ anxiety and depression increased more than older adults’ after surges in COVID-19 case counts but decreased less following vaccination against the virus.
Researchers believe that the less favorable economic conditions and responses to social upheaval may have contributed to young adults’ worse mental well-being.
“The years from 2020 through 2022 were difficult, due to the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of national and global events that impacted people in the US and around the world,” said Dr. Sarah Collier Villaume.
“High levels of anxiety and depression were documented shortly after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and were more prevalent in younger adults than in older adults,” she added.
“Economic precarity was associated with high anxiety and depression among younger adults in the US compared with older adults in the U.S.,” she continued
To get their results the team, from Northwestern University, Illinois, studied data from over three million US adults through online surveys from April 2020 through August 2022 alongside weekly state-level data on COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The prevalence of anxiety was approximately four percentage points lower for each 10-year age group.
Scores were higher for anxiety and depression among those in young adulthood compared with middle adulthood and the two conditions appear to often go hand in hand with more than 80 percent of those with high depression scores also having high anxiety scores.
The results, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, also showed that anxiety and depression were significantly more prevalent among women than men.
Households with lower income or education below a bachelor’s degree were also seen to have higher levels of depression and anxiety.
Dr. Villaume concluded: “While there is more to learn about the factors that contribute to the experience younger US adult have with anxiety and depression in the current context, our findings point to a need for mental health care and economic policies that target the needs of young adults.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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