HomeHealthMental HealthCanadian research quantifies pandemic-provoked depression

Canadian research quantifies pandemic-provoked depression

A new study suggests that about one in eight older Canadian adults experienced depression for the first time during the pandemic.

The results of a study of more than 20,000 Canadian adults aged 50 and older, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, identified quantitative data showing a common increase in depression among older adults with no prior mental health problems.

Andie MacNeil, a researcher at the University of Toronto and author of the study, said in a press release Thursday that this high rate of first-onset depression “highlights the significant mental toll the pandemic caused on a previously mentally healthy group of older adults.” .”

The study identified numerous factors associated with the decline in mental health among older adults during the pandemic, including financial hardship, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and family conflict.

Researchers also evaluated survey participants with a record of mental health decline, finding that nearly half (45 percent) of the group reported a state of depression in fall 2020.

Sapirya Birk, another study co-author and a researcher at Carleton University, sees how the pandemic mostly affected people with a history of depression — and what this data should mean for health screening and mental health resources.

“Health professionals should be vigilant in screening their patients who had mental health problems earlier in life,” she said in the release.

In addition to identifying a rampant rise in depression cases across the country, the data also determined demographic susceptibility to mental health decline among individuals of low socioeconomic status.

Canadian seniors with chronic pain who had difficulty accessing usual treatments, medication or health care were more likely to have depression in the fall of 2020.

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The study also showed that adults who experienced family conflict during the COVID-19 outbreak were three times more likely to develop depression than those who did not.

“We hope our findings can help health and social work professionals improve targeted screening and outreach to identify and help older adults who are most at risk for depression,” MacNeil said.



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