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Brisbane / Australia – The frequency of major depression and anxiety disorders has increased by more than 25% in the course of the corona pandemic, with younger people and women in particular suffering from the restrictions of public life. This is the result of an international team of researchers in Lancet (2021; DOI: 10.1016 / S0140-6736 (21) 02143-7).

Social restrictions, general lockdown with school and business closings, the loss of livelihoods for many working people, and the decline in economic activity have harmed the mental health of many people. The consequences include an increase in depression and anxiety disorders, the global extent of which the “COVID-19 Mental Disorders Collaborators” estimated in a meta-analysis.

Damian Santomauro’s team from the Queensland Center for Mental Health Research in Brisbane evaluated the data from 48 studies. Since the studies were mainly carried out in high-income countries in Western Europe, North America, Australia and Asia, the global claim may be too ambitious, especially since no data was available from South America and Africa. However, the study tries to fill these gaps with mathematical means that have already proven themselves in the GBD study (“Global Burden of Diseases”).

According to the GBD study, depression and anxiety were among the 25 diseases with the greatest burden of disease even before the pandemic. According to the model estimates by Santomauro, 193 million people worldwide would have suffered from severe depressive disorders without the pandemic. The pandemic has increased the number by 53 million, or 28%, to 246 million cases. Of the additional illnesses, women accounted for 35 million versus 18 million for men.

The researchers determine similar numbers for anxiety disorders. Without a pandemic, there would have been 298 million sick people worldwide in 2020. The pandemic caused 76 million additional illnesses, an increase of 26%. In 2020 there were 374 million cases. Of the additional illnesses, 52 million were women and 24 million were men.

In 2020, younger people were more affected by major depressive disorders and anxiety disorders than older people. The prevalence increased most in the age group of 20 to 24 year olds. © rme / aerzteblatt.de

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