A new study finds three times more people were suffering from depression at the beginning of the pandemic, compared to the same time period last year. Now five months later, as the virus and economic hardship has spread across the country, researchers say it’s possible levels of depression are even higher.
In a new survey published in the the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of Americans reporting symptoms of depression tripled during the first few weeks of April compared with the same time period in 2019. In the survey, Americans were asked if they found pleasure in doing things, felt hopeless, struggled with sleep or eating or felt bad about themselves.
Study author Catherine Ettman says, “These findings were surprising. This number is higher than what we have seen after other large-scale events.” According to Ettman, women were more likely to feel depressed, as were people struggling with finances. Ettman says, “If somebody is experiencing depression they should know that they’re not alone, and that they should seek medical treatment.”
Researchers conducted the survey when the pandemic was at its height in New York City. The virus and financial pain had not yet spread across the country, and they say it’s possible even more people are feeling depressed.
It’s been a tough year for Craig Yeaton inside his California diving shop. “Over these, you know, four, five months, I’ve put on 35 to 40 pounds,” he says. Weight the shop owner gained while dealing with levels of stress he’s never seen. The coronavirus pandemic wiped out thousands of dollars of business. Yeaton says the stress feels like “helplessness, feeling like I’m completely not in control of the things that I’m supposed to be in control of.”
Yeaton says he isn’t ready to talk to a professional. “It’s not easy to go and say, ‘I need you to help me.’ That’s not an easy deal.“ He is sharing his pain with friends and family and diving into work, hoping to salvage the life he worked so hard to build.