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1 in 8 adult experienced depression for first time during pandemic: Research | Health

One in eight older adults in Canada, according to a recent large-scale study involving more than 20,000, experienced their first depression during the epidemic. The statistics were significantly worse for people who had previously struggled with depression. Nearly half (45 percent) of this population reported having depression by the fall of 2020.

The analysis of responses from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, which collected information from participants over an average of seven years, was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public health.

“The high rate of first depression in 2020 highlights the substantial mental health toll that the pandemic caused in a previously mentally healthy group of older adults,” said first author, Andie MacNeil, a recent Master of Social Work graduate of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW) and the Institute for Life Course and Aging, University of Toronto.

While it is well known that depression among older adults increased during the pandemic, few studies have examined the percentage of people who first developed the disorder or the percentage of people with a history of the condition who relapsed. (Also read | Number of hours worked in stressful jobs leads to risk of depression: Study)

“The devastation of the pandemic that has upended so many aspects of daily life hit those with a history of depression particularly hard,” said study co-author Sapriya Birk, a researcher formerly in the Department of Neuroscience, Carleton University. , Ottawa, who is currently a medical student at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, adding, “Health professionals should be vigilant in screening their patients who had mental health problems earlier in life.”

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The researchers found that a number of factors, such as low income and savings, loneliness, chronic pain, difficulty accessing health care, a history of traumatic childhood experiences and family conflict, were associated with depression in older adults during the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, older adults who felt their income was insufficient to meet their basic needs and those who had less savings were more likely to experience depression during the pandemic.

“These findings highlight the disproportionate mental health burden borne by individuals of low socioeconomic status during the pandemic. Many of these socioeconomic risk factors may have been exacerbated by the economic uncertainty of the pandemic, particularly for individuals with fewer resources,” says co-author author Margaret de Groh, scientific manager at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Individuals who experienced different dimensions of loneliness, such as feeling left out, isolated, and lacking companionship, had an approximately 4 to 5 times higher risk of both occasional and recurrent depression.

“Unsurprisingly, lockdown has been particularly difficult for older adults who have been isolated and lonely during the pandemic. Socializing and social support are essential for well-being and mental health. Better support and assistance is needed for those who have been isolated,” said study co-author Ying Jiang, a senior epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Older adults with chronic pain and those who had difficulty accessing their usual health care, medication or treatments were more likely to become depressed in the fall of 2020.

“This finding underscores the importance of streamlining services to ensure that medical services are less disrupted when pandemics emerge in the future,” said co-author Professor Paul J. Villeneuve, Department of Neuroscience, Carleton University, Canada.

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Individuals with a history of childhood adversity were more likely to become depressed in the fall of 2020. Older adults who experienced family conflict during the pandemic were more than three times as likely to develop depression compared to their peers who did not.

“Family conflict is a major stressor that can affect mental health even in the best of times. With the forced shutdown and the stress of the pandemic, many family relationships have come under great strain. The resulting conflict has posed a high risk for depression,” says senior author, Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson at the FIFSW of the University of Toronto and director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging.

This story was published from an agency news agency with no edits to the text.

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