HealthDay News — Globally, the pooled prevalence estimates for clinically elevated depression and anxiety symptoms almost doubled among children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Aug. 9 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Nicole Racine, Ph.D., from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and colleagues searched four databases and unpublished studies to ascertain more precise estimates of the global prevalence of child and adolescent clinically elevated depression and anxiety symptoms during COVID-19 and compared these estimates to prepandemic estimates. The full inclusion criteria were met by 29 studies with 80,879 participants.

The researchers found that the pooled prevalence estimates were 25.2 and 20.5 percent for clinically elevated depression and anxiety symptoms, respectively. The prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms almost doubled during COVID-19 compared with prepandemic estimates (12.9 and 11.6 percent, respectively). The prevalence of clinically elevated depression and anxiety symptoms was higher in studies obtained later in the pandemic and among girls in moderator analyses. Older children had higher depression symptoms.


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“The COVID-19 pandemic, and its associated restrictions and consequences, appear to have taken a considerable toll on youth and their psychological well-being,” the authors write. “In terms of practice implications, a routine touch point for many youth is the family physician or pediatrician’s office. Within this context, it is critical to inquire about or screen for youth mental health difficulties.”

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