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Canadian research quantifies pandemic-induced depression

A new study suggests that about one in eight older Canadian adults experienced depression for the first time during the pandemic.

Results of a survey of more than 20,000 Canadian adults aged 50 and older have been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and identified quantitative data that show prevalent bouts of depression among elderly people without previous mental health problems.

Andie MacNeil, a University of Toronto researcher and study author, said in a press release Thursday that this high rate of initial-onset depression “highlights the heavy mental health toll the pandemic has taken.” caused in a group of previously mentally healthy older adults”. .”

The study determined many factors that were correlated with declining mental health in older adults during the pandemic, including financial hardship, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and family conflict.

The researchers also assessed survey participants with a history of declining mental health, finding almost half (45%) of the group reporting a state of depression in fall 2020.

Sapirya Birk, another study co-author and a researcher at Carleton University, sees how the pandemic has particularly affected people who had a history of depression – and what this data should mean for health care screening. and mental health resources.

“Healthcare professionals should be vigilant in screening their patients who have had mental health issues at an earlier stage in their lives,” she said in the statement.

In addition to identifying a rampant rise in cases of depression nationwide, the data also determined demographic susceptibilities to declining mental health among people of low socioeconomic status.

Canadian seniors with chronic pain who had difficulty accessing usual treatments, medications or health services were more likely to experience depression in fall 2020.

The research also indicated that adults who endured family conflict during the COVID-19 outbreak were three times more likely to develop depression than those who did not.

“We hope our findings can help health and social work professionals improve targeted screening and outreach to identify and serve older adults most at risk for depression,” MacNeil said.

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