The number of people reporting “significant” depression and anxiety spiked when Boris Johnson announced a lockdown to tackle coronavirus last week, a study suggests.
More than a third of the 2,000 taking part (38%) reported significant depression and significant anxiety (36%), according to the University of Sheffield study.
This dropped the day after the prime minister urged everyone to stay at home, but levels of depression and anxiety over the whole of last week were elevated above normal levels.
Those aged under 35, living in a city, living alone or with children, with low incomes, with health conditions, or whose incomes have been hit by the pandemic also tended to have higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Those who felt that they belonged to their neighbourhood and who trusted their neighbours had lower levels.
Team leader Professor Richard Bentall, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Sheffield, said: “We were surprised to see a spike in the number of people reporting significant levels of depression and anxiety immediately after the announcement of a lockdown.
“We are seeing initial evidence of a rise in psychological symptoms in the population but, nonetheless, the overall picture that emerges so far is of a nation that is well informed about Covid-19, taking appropriate action and resilient.
“The rates of reported mental health problems are higher but not dramatically different to those observed in previous, similar surveys – but those who have already taken a financial hit are more likely to feel anxious or depressed.”
Across the week, a quarter (25%) of women and nearly a fifth (18%) of men exhibited clinically meaningful symptoms of anxiety, 23% of women and 21% of men showed signs of depression, and 15% of women and 19% of men were stressed.
This was above the 15.7% of people who reported common psychiatric disorders in similar surveys before coronavirus “but not...