HealthDay News — The burden of depressive symptoms in the U.S. adult population has increased during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Oct. 4 in The Lancet Regional Health-Americas.

Catherine K. Ettman, from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues surveyed a longitudinal panel of U.S. adults in March to April 2020 (1,441 adults) and March to April 2021 (1,161 adults) as part of the COVID-19 and Life Stressors Impact on Mental Health and Well-Being study.

The researchers found that the prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms persisted from 27.8 percent in 2020 to 32.8 percent in 2021. Low household income, not being married, and experiencing multiple stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic were the drivers of depressive symptoms over time. For low-income adults compared with high-income adults, the odds of elevated depressive symptoms increased over time (2020: odds ratio, 2.3; 2021: odds ratio, 7.0). Overall, fewer people reported experiencing four or more COVID-19 stressors in 2021 versus 2020 (37.1 and 47.5 percent, respectively), but the odds ratio of elevated depressive symptoms associated with four or more stressors increased (2020: odds ratio, 1.9; 2021: odds ratio, 5.4) compared with one or less stressors.

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“Mental health gaps grew between populations with different assets and stressor experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors write.

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