One-fifth Australians report increase in depression amid pandemic: study

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CANBERRA, May 10 (Xinhua) — One in five Australians reported an increase in mental distress at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, a study has found.

Researchers from Australian National University (ANU) surveyed 1,296 Australians on a fortnightly basis between the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020 until mid-June.

In a study published on Monday, they revealed that one in five participants reported an increased level of depression in the midst of restrictions.

“Younger age, being female, greater COVID-19-related work and social impairment, COVID-19-related financial distress, having a neurological or mental illness diagnosis, and recent adversity were each significantly associated with higher baseline depression and anxiety scores,” the report said.

“In contrast, few factors were statistically associated with changes in symptoms of depression or anxiety over the seven surveys: degree of direct exposure to COVID-19 was associated with less marked decline of symptoms of depression; being able to work from home and being female were associated with greater declines in symptoms of anxiety.”

Philip Batterham, the lead author of the study from ANU’s Centre for Mental Health Research, said the findings proved the need for public health strategies designed to mitigate the mental health impacts of the pandemic.

“(Our results) suggest that distress during the pandemic was transient for most people, and unlikely to lead to increased incidence of depression or anxiety disorders, consistent with previous research on public health disasters,” he said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, economic and social changes can have a delayed impact on mental health.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of the need for greater support and practical strategies for mitigating these risks, as recognizing and responding to distress early may alter harmful trajectories.” Enditem

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