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Women and young people most at risk of post-pandemic depression, study reveals

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Women and young people were “more likely” to feel depressed during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, a major study has revealed.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), provide a deep insight into the mental wellbeing of the nation during the first three months of 2021.

According to the paper, one in five (21 per cent) adults experienced “some form of depression” at the start of the year – more than double that observed before the coronavirus pandemic.

But the research also shows that age, sex, and financial status were closely linked with rates of depression.

For example, over a third of adults (35 per cent) who said they could not afford an “unexpected expense of £850” also reported depressive symptoms – up from one in five (21 per cent) prior to the outbreak.

Younger adults and women were also more likely to report some form of depression, with over four in 10 (43 per cent) women aged 16 to 29 years experiencing depressive symptoms, compared with a quarter (26 per cent) of men of the same age.

Vulnerable adults, including those classified as disabled and clinically extremely vulnerable, were also more likely to report depressive symptoms, the report found.

The figures come as GPs report seeing fewer cases of depression in the last year – suggesting many people may still be wary of leaving their home.

Commenting on the figures, Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mental health charity Mind, said: “The fact that GP-diagnosed cases of adult depression have fallen during the pandemic suggests people are not going to their GP for help, perhaps because they’re concerned about placing extra pressure on the NHS.

“This is worrying because we know that left untreated, mental health problems become more difficult and expensive to treat.”

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.