Pandemic led to increase in rate and severity of depression, Intermountain study says
Mar 6, 2023, 9:05 PM | Updated: 9:07 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic had a large impact on mental health, specifically depression, an Intermountain Health study presented at a cardiology conference on Saturday found.
Intermountain Health said in a news release that researchers found both the rate of depression and the severity of depression increased during the pandemic in a study of almost 136,000 patients in Salt Lake City.
“The COVID-19 pandemic impacted just about every part of people’s lives. Quarantining, social distancing, societal disruptions and an ever-shifting, uncertain landscape of rules and restrictions and variants created stress and isolation that impacted the mental health of millions of Americans,” the statement said.
The study also found whether a person contracted COVID-19 or not was not significant; depression rates were worse across the board.
Heidi May, cardiovascular epidemiologist at Intermountain Health and principal investigator of the study, said because of mental health’s impacts on chronic diseases — including cardiovascular disease — mental health screening is an important piece of overall patient care.
“We know depression is a risk factor for chronic disease, so given these findings, it’s really important to mitigate some of the effects of depression so these patients can lead healthier and happier lives right now, and in the future,” May said.
COVID, DEPRESSION, AND HEART HEALTH RESEARCH: study presented at #ACC23 shows significant increase in depressive symptoms and severity of symptoms w/ or w/o a COVID-19 infections. 1/3
— Intermountain Health (@Intermountain) March 5, 2023
Researchers evaluated the patient health care questionnaires used by Intermountain to screen for depression between Jan. 1, 2016, and April 20, 2022. The questionnaire categorizes patients into categories based on scores; a score under 10 means a patient does not have depression, while a score over 20 means they have severe depression.
Through the study, researchers found the mean score rose by 1.5 points. They also found about 45% of patients reported depression at some degree prior to the pandemic, but beginning in 2021, 55% of patients showed some degree of depression.