Depression Rates Tripled and Symptoms Intensified During First Year of COVID-19

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Depression among U.S. adults persisted, and worsened, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, found a new study by public health researchers at Brown University and Boston University.

Published in the journal the Lancet Regional Health – Americas, the study found that 32.8% of U.S. adults experienced elevated depressive symptoms in 2021, compared to 27.8% of adults in the early months of the pandemic in 2020, and 8.5% before the pandemic.

“Rates of depression did not decrease over time, nor did they stay the same — surprisingly, they went up,” said lead author Catherine Ettman, a doctoral candidate at Brown’s School of Public Health and chief of staff and director of strategic initiatives in the Office of the Dean at Boston University’s School of Public Health.

The most significant predictors of depressive symptoms during the pandemic were low household income, not being married, and the experience of multiple pandemic-related stressors. The findings underscore the inextricable link between the pandemic and its short- and long-term impacts on mental health, Ettman said.

These outcomes are notably different than those observed after other national crises, the researchers said. READ MORE