Oct 6, 2021 - Health

COVID nearly doubled self-reported anxiety symptoms

Average anxiety and depression severity scores in U.S. adults during the pandemic
Data: CDC; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

While Americans reported heightened symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic peaking last winter, their symptoms had improved by this past June, according to a new CDC study.

The big picture: Still, Americans reported their anxiety and depression symptoms are still higher than they were before the pandemic.

By the numbers: 1.2 million people were surveyed multiple times on a bi-weekly basis between the fall and winter of last year and then again between December 2020 and early June this year.

The average anxiety severity score increased 13% from late August to December 2020 and then decreased nearly 27% from December to late May and early June this year.

  • The average depression severity score increased nearly 15% and then decreased about 25% during the same time period.
  • Anxiety and depression severity scores are one and a half to two times what they were in 2019, the CDC data shows.

Yes, but: Increased access to mental health services must continue, the report warns, as many people are still struggling.

  • About a fifth of U.S. adults still experience high levels of psychological distress, per the Pew Research Center, especially adults under 29, those with lower income or adults with a disability or health conditions.
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