Depression among kids, young adults rose during Covid-19 pandemic: Study

2021-08-05 19:52:45
Depression among kids, young adults rose during Covid-19 pandemic: Study

The number of U.S. adolescents and young adults who screened positive for depression and suicide risk increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined electronic health records from 68,699 people ages 12 to 21, who received primary care at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The proportion of youth screening positive for depressive symptoms increased from 5% between June and December 2019 to 6.2% in the same months during 2020.

The proportion who screened positive for suicide risk climbed from 6.1% to 7.1% over this same period.

"School closures and disruptions of routines, social isolation, concerns about family members' health, financial stresses, political turmoil and high-profile examples of racial injustice may all have played a role," said coauthor Stephanie Mayne of the University of Pennsylvania.

The study results may underestimate the problem, her team noted in a report on Wednesday in Pediatrics, because youth with the most severe mental health symptoms might not have sought treatment in primary care.

"As children head back to school, some for the first time in a while, it is important that we support our schools, teachers, and guidance counselors as they work to help our students learn and deal with what has been an exceptionally challenging 18 months," said Dr. Stephen Patrick of Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the study.

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