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Depression odds for many adults more than doubled during the pandemic

Numerous scientific papers link the pandemic to depression. Yet the overall picture is muddied by studies that suggest mental health has stabilized or even improved since the initial lockdown.

New research in the journal Nature Aging tries to clarify the picture.

An analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging finds the odds of depression among middle-aged and older adults were doubled during the pandemic.

Those odds were made three to six times worse if subjects were lonely, had lower socioeconomic status or more health problems, or were caregivers.

Such factors contributed to depression long before COVID-19 added fears of infection and unemployment to the mix, along with reduced access to family, friends and health care.

The paper calls for alleviating the pandemic's mental health impact by focusing efforts on the groups at greatest risk. 

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.