Feelings of depression and anxiety ‘increased sharply over Christmas’

A survey found that, despite there being fewer Covid restrictions, symptoms were on a par with levels during lockdown at the start of 2021.

Alana Calvert
Wednesday 19 January 2022 07:16
Symptoms of depression and anxiety increased sharply over the Christmas period, a survey found (David Cheskin/PA)
Symptoms of depression and anxiety increased sharply over the Christmas period, a survey found (David Cheskin/PA)

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.

There was a sharp decline in life satisfaction and happiness over the Christmas period (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The study also found:

– A decrease in confidence in the Government’s handling of the pandemic over Christmas among English and Welsh respondents –  which was most prominent in younger adults.

– 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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