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How Omicron increased anxiety

Wednesday January 19th 2022

The British population faced a significant increase in depression and anxiety in December as the Omicron variant took hold, according to a new analysis.

Dr Daisy Fancourt of University College London, UK, and her team have tracked the mental health impact of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, in the 'COVID-19 Social Study'.

The new findings are based on a survey of 31,151 people in the first week of January. They show that levels of depression and anxiety rose sharply, especially in young adults, reaching similar levels to lockdown at the start of 2021.

Survey responses also indicate that confidence in the devolved governments’ handling of the pandemic fell in England and Wales, but not Scotland, in December.

Compared with November 2021, there was a drop in life satisfaction and happiness - both at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic.

Dr Fancourt explains: “The findings reported here highlight the ongoing adverse effects of the pandemic on mental health. Even though there were many fewer restrictions this Christmas compared with Christmas 2020, levels of anxiety and depression were on a par with the same time last year.

"Our findings suggest that it is not just the presence of social restrictions that affect mental health but also concerns and stressors relating to high levels of the virus and a high risk of infection."

She points to the decrease in confidence in lawmakers as a likely contributor to the stresses many people faced over this period.

Cheryl Lloyd of the Nuffield Foundation, which collaborates on the study, said: “In addition to the increase in depression and anxiety over the Christmas period, it is worrying that the majority of people report not fully understanding the current ‘rules’ in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"This demonstrates there is an important communication challenge to be addressed by the government."

[Study site]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Mental Health | UK News

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