Shocking figures have revealed a quarter of people living alone in Great Britain experienced some form of depression this year.
Around 25% of people living in a single-person household were depressed in early 2021, up from 15% before the COVID pandemic, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The total proportion of adults who said they had experienced depression was around one in five, the figures suggest.
This was more than double the level recorded before the coronavirus outbreak (10%).
Among people aged 16 to 39, the figure for depression stood at 29%, up from 11%, while for those with a disability, the figure was 39%, up from 27%.
For those living in a household with at least one child under 16, the proportion stood at 23%, up from 6%.
Richard Kramer, chief executive of disability charity Sense, tweeted: “More evidence from @ONS that disabled people have been disproportionately affected by mental health issues as economic and social impact of coronavirus plays out.”
The ONS study also showed around 1 in 3 (35%) adults who reported being unable to afford an unexpected expense of £850 experienced depressive symptoms in early 2021, compared with 1 in 5 (21%) adults before the pandemic.
For adults who were able to afford this expense, rates increased from 5% to 13%.
The figures were compiled by surveying people aged 16 and over between 27 January and 7 March.
Last month, a study revealed COVID survivors diagnosed in the previous six months had a higher chance of developing brain or psychiatric disorders.
UK researchers who conducted the analysis said it was not clear how the disease was linked to psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression but that these were the most common diagnoses among the 14 disorders they looked at.
Post-COVID cases of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer, the researchers said, but were still significant, especially in those who had severe COVID.
Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford University, who co-led the work, said: “Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial.”
The findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, analysed health records of 236,379 COVID patients and found 34% had been diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric illnesses within six months.
The disorders were significantly more common in COVID patients than in groups of people who recovered from flu or other respiratory infections over the same time period, the scientists said, suggesting COVID had a specific impact.
Anxiety, at 17%, and mood disorders, at 14%, were the most common, and did not appear to be related to how mild or severe the patient's COVID infection had been.
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