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Adapted from Ettman, et al., 2020, "Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic"; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans are reporting symptoms of depression three times more than they were before the pandemic, according to a recent study published in JAMA.

Why it matters: The downstream effects of the coronavirus on our health, and particularly our mental health, are getting worse.

Between the lines: The same people getting hammered hardest by the actual coronavirus are also most likely to be at higher risk of depression.

  • Households with lower incomes, households with less than $5,000 in savings and people with high exposure to coronavirus stressors were more likely to report depression symptoms.
  • "As an event that can cause physical, emotional, and psychological harm, the COVID-19 pandemic can itself be considered a traumatic event," the authors write. "In addition, the policies created to prevent its spread introduced new life stressors and disrupted daily living for most people in the US."

The bottom line: "Post–COVID-19 plans should account for the probable increase in mental illness to come, particularly among at-risk populations," the authors conclude.

Our thought bubble: In the short term, the best way to reduce mental health issues stemming from the pandemic is to reduce the severity of the pandemic, which means getting the virus under control and, in turn, lessening its economic disruption.

  • But mental health issues don't go away overnight, and our health care system was already bad at addressing them. Suicide and substance abuse have been huge issues in the U.S. for years.
  • If we're actually going to address these trauma-related mental health issues, that probably requires a serious policy effort, as the people most affected are the people least likely to have access to mental health care under today's system.

Go deeper: The coming coronavirus mental health crisis

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up — Team USA to mandate vaccine for Winter Olympic hopefuls — U.S. to buy 500 million more Pfizer doses to share with the world.
  2. Health: Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban — D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

COVID-19 vaccine will arrive to states by Monday

General Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for the Defense Department's Project Warp Speed. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use on Friday night, is expected to arrive throughout the U.S. by Monday to administer to health care workers, U.S. officials said Saturday.

Why it matters: The administration green-lighting shipments and distribution this weekend comes as the U.S. topped more than 3,000 deaths a day — more than 9/11 or D-Day.

Americans used disaster housing more than 1 million times in 2020

A person and a pup evacuated from a wildfire near Vacaville, California, taking refuge at a Red Cross shelter in August 2020. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

People used emergency lodging across the U.S. more than 1 million times in 2020, over four times the annual average during the past decade, the American Red Cross said.

Why it matters: The figure is a testament to how the COVID-19 pandemic, active wildfires, a relentless hurricane season and other natural disasters wracked the country this year.