The number of people reporting symptoms of depression almost doubled to nearly one in five in June 2020, according to analysis from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS analysis looked at the levels of depressive symptoms in the same group of over 3,500 adults in Great Britain before the coronavirus pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020) and during it (June 2020).

Depressive symptoms include low mood and loss of interest and enjoyment in ordinary things. The ONS used the same type of questionnaire as health professionals, asking people to score themselves against various statements and using this as a basis for judging if the individual was showing signs of mild, moderate or severe depression.

Further reading: Depression in the older population

It found over the 12 months to June 2020, one in eight adults (12.9%) have developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms, while 6.2% of the population already had this level of depressive symptoms. Around one in 25 adults (3.5%) saw an improvement over this period.

How did symptoms of depression change during the pandemic?

The most likely characteristics of those experiencing some form of depression in June 2020 were those aged 16 to 39, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense or disabled.

Of adults who were experiencing some form of depression, 84.9% felt their well-being was being affected by stress or anxiety (the most common response). Over two in five (42.2%) said their relationships were being affected.

Tim Vizard, Principal Research Officer, Office for National Statistics, said: “Today’s research provides an insight into the mental health of adults during the coronavirus pandemic. Revisiting this same group of adults before and during the pandemic provides a unique insight into how their symptoms of depression have changed over time.

"Nearly one in five adults were experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic, almost doubling from around one in 10 before. Adults who are young, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.”

For more news and article on depression go to our psychiatry section