JAN 07, 2023 8:00 AM PST

Depression Rates Increased for Older Adults During the Pandemic

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study found that 1 in 8 older adults experienced depression for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic. A large-scale study of 22,622 older Canadians published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, used data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), and provides critical insights into the mental health challenges older adults faced since the initial 2020 lockdown. This study is one of the first to determine the percentage of people who experienced depression for the first time, or the percentage of individuals with previous depression who experienced a relapse.

Those adults who experienced past mental health issues had higher rates of depression that were exacerbated by the pandemic. Almost half (45%) of this group reported being depressed by the autumn of 2020.

Several factors were associated with pandemic-related depression for the older adult population including inadequate income and savings, loneliness, chronic pain, trouble accessing healthcare, a history of adverse childhood experiences, and family conflict. Older adults with limited financial resources prior to the pandemic were more likely to develop depression. 

Those adults suffering from chronic pain and those who had trouble accessing healthcare, medication or treatments were more likely to experience depression during the autumn of 2020. According to study co-author Professor Paul J. Villeneuve of Carleton University’s Department of Neuroscience, “This finding underlines the importance of streamlining service provision to ensure less disruption of medical services when future pandemics arise.” Access to quality medical services would provide some consistency and reassurance for older adults. 

The researchers pointed out that vulnerable populations were under-represented in the CLSA, so they believe that the impact of the pandemic among older Canadians may even be greater than observed. 

The high rate of first-onset depression in 2020 highlights the substantial mental health crisis. Physicians recommend that anyone exhibiting symptoms of depression after COVID should seek mental health support. Social connections and support are critical for maintaining mental wellness and quality of life for older adults. 

Sources: Eureka News Alert, MDPI

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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