Depression and anxiety symptoms among Britons rose sharply over the Christmas period – despite there being no lockdown, according to a survey.
Although there were fewer restrictions compared with the previous festive season, research led by University College London found that depressive symptoms were on a par with levels during lockdown at the start of 2021.
The Covid-19 Social Study, which involved 31,151 participants, also found that the increase in depression and anxiety symptoms was most prominent in younger adults.
There was also a sharp decline in life satisfaction and happiness over the Christmas period, which was noted across all age groups.
While levels remained above those reported over Christmas 2020, when the UK was under strict lockdown, the survey suggested life satisfaction and happiness over Christmas 2021 was at its lowest since March 2021 – just before lockdown was lifted.
The study also found:
– A sharp increase in the proportion of people concerned about catching or becoming seriously ill with Covid. The survey found 43% of respondents were “majorly concerned” about catching the virus within the next three months, 46% were worried about becoming seriously ill, and 58% were concerned about family or friends catching it.
– More than one in two people were seriously concerned about developing long Covid.
– One in three people thought they had come into contact with Covid-19 over the Christmas period.
– Three in four people were concerned about non-Covid NHS treatment being cancelled, postponed or otherwise adversely affected in the next three months.
– Sixty-four percent of those surveyed had major concerns about hospitals being overwhelmed. These fears were greatest among adults over the age of 30 compared with adults aged 18-29.
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