The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have driven 60,000 children in the U.K. to clinical depression, studies have found.
The findings, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, found a 27.1% prevalence of depression amongst children, significantly higher than numbers expected without lockdowns.
According to a report by the Telegraph, the percentage equates to about 60,000 extra kids who suffered clinical depression due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“After controlling for baseline scores and several school and pupil-level characteristics, depressive symptoms were higher in the COVID-19 group,” the study found. “These findings demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic increased adolescent depressive symptoms beyond what would have likely occurred under non-pandemic circumstances.”
Data shows that 400,000 British children were given referrals to mental health specialists in 2021 for a variety of mental disorders, including bulimia and self-harm. The findings underscore how lockdowns have had an adverse impact on the lives of children whose struggles have been kept in the dark as society remained focused on COVID case numbers.
The Telegraph reported:
The researchers said the increase will have led to approximately 60,000 more secondary school students whose depressive symptoms would surpass a clinical threshold.
The pandemic appeared to impact girls’ mental health more than boys as girls experienced greater depressive symptoms and lower wellbeing.
Initial findings of those surveyed showed that almost a quarter of children would not tell their parents if they were worried about something.
As the lives of children are pushed to the wayside in favour of mask mandates and movement restrictions, lockdowns have had a massive detrimental effect on children — not just in terms of mental health, but also physical health.
In 2021, Canadian experts reported that the lockdowns had a detrimental effect on children in their early years up until preschool age, who require exposure to microorganisms that help us digest our food, protect from disease, and regulate our immune system, CTV News reported.
The publication reported:
Marie-Claire Arrieta, an assistant professor in the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, says that the early years up until pre-school age are critical for exposure to microorganisms that help digest our food, protect us from disease and regulate our immune system.
“The concern now is that in many cases we know these signals come from our contact with other humans which during a pandemic has been drastically reduced,” she said.
According to Arrieta, the pandemic isolation is just part of a larger picture of modern life reducing our exposure to microbes, such as through overuse of antibiotics and our increasingly urban indoor lifestyles, which reduce the amount of organisms we pick up from animals and soil.
Arrieta said it’s difficult to predict the long-term outcomes of the pandemic-related isolation, but that the overall consequence of a lack of microbial diversity is higher risk of certain diseases, including asthma and allergies, as well as obesity.