May 26, 2020 - Health

Census Bureau reports spike in signs of anxiety and depression since coronavirus

A food bank distribution line in Brooklyn, New York. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A food bank distribution line in Brooklyn, New York. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Americans are experiencing an increase in anxiety and depression amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Census Bureau survey cited by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The findings indicate a significant uptick in clinical anxiety and depression since the onset of the virus. Despite communities and economies reopening, the COVID-19 outbreak is far from over.

Details: The Census Bureau initiated an emergency weekly survey of U.S. households starting at the end of April to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus on education, employment, finances, health and housing. 1 million households were contacted between May 7-12, with over 42,000 respondents per the most recent data.

  • 24% of the survey's respondents, showed signs of major depressive disorder three months into the so-called new normal, when asked questions typically used for screening patients for mental health problems. 30% of respondents indicated some generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Symptoms were more frequent among young people, women and low-income individuals.
  • Results also varied by region. Iowa, for example, tallied 26% of its population showing symptoms, while Mississippi counted 48%.

Between the lines: The Trump administration has used mental health concerns to justify reopening the nation's economy.

  • At a briefing Tuesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: "[President Trump] always listened to the science ... Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx said 'you need to shut down the economy.' That was hard for the president. You know, in a typical year, 120,000 people die of suicide and drug overdose. And that's in a typical year."
  • "And doctors have said when you shut down an economy for an extended period of time, that number gets greater," she added.
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