Levels of anxiety and depression in the UK have both fallen in the past week but remain above the usual reported averages, according to a study monitoring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The study, involving 90,000 adults, found depression levels had decreased particularly amongst those aged under 60.
“It is encouraging that levels of anxiety and depression have both fallen as lockdown has eased”
However, depression and anxiety were still highest in young people, people living alone, those with lower income, a diagnosed mental illness, who were living with children, and living in urban areas.
The figures also show that life satisfaction – measured on a scale from 0 to 10 – has risen from under 5.5 when lockdown was first announced to over 6, but is still lower than usually-reported averages.
In addition, thoughts of death and self-harm, experience of self-harm, and loneliness also remained relatively stable, said the researchers behind the study.
However, they were higher among younger people, those in urban areas, those with a lower household income and people with a diagnosed mental health condition.
The findings come from the UK’s largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health.
The ongoing study, which was launched in the week before lockdown, is funded by the Nuffield Foundation with additional support from Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation.
Study respondents were also asked how much confidence they had in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic, by scoring from one to seven, with seven the best.
The study found that confidence in their respective governments remained steady at around five for those living in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and just over four for those in Wales.
However, confidence in England was currently lower, at around 3.5 overall, but worse among those under 30 and those in urban areas.
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Lead study author Dr Daisy Fancourt, from University College London, said: “It is encouraging that levels of anxiety and depression have both fallen as lockdown has eased.
“However, the levels being reported by participants are still worse than usual reported averages,” she noted.
“While our sample is not random, meaning direct comparisons to usual averages are complex, we have good representation across demographic groups and all data are weighted to population proportions for key demographics.”
Cheryl Lloyd, education programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, also said it was “reassuring” that levels of anxiety and depression had begun to decrease as lockdown lifts.
But he added: “It is important that researchers continue to carefully monitor the psychological impacts of the pandemic, especially as the social and economic impacts of Covid-19 are likely to be long-lasting.”