COVID anxiety is a health problem too

A new global study published in the Lancet examines 48 data sources in an attempt to quantify that toll. The authors report a world-wide increase of more than 129 million cases of major depression and anxiety disorders compared with pre-pandemic figures. They attribute this to the “combined effects of the spread of the virus, lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, decreased public transport, school and business closures, and decreased social interactions, among other factors.”

The rise in mental-health problems was correlated with both infection rates and restrictions on personal behavior: “We estimated that the locations hit hardest by the pandemic in 2020, as measured with decreased human mobility and daily SARS-CoV-2 infection rate, had the greatest increases in prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders.”

Similarly, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finds that the frequency of anxiety and depression is correlated with the average number of daily Covid-19 cases—though the CDC didn’t separately consider the mental-health effect of lockdowns and other restrictions.