Monday, May 1, 2023

Depression Symptoms in Youth Worsened During COVID-19 Pandemic, Meta-Analysis Finds

A meta-analysis of more than 50 longitudinal studies of children and adolescents from 12 countries has confirmed what many had feared: Symptoms of depression in youth around the world increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings were published today in JAMA Pediatrics.

“Our findings are in line with other mental health–related studies which report increases in eating disorders and emergency department visits for suicide attempts and ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Sheri Madigan, Ph.D., of the University of Calgary and colleagues. “The magnitude of this [depression] increase was more than what could be expected based on time trends and can therefore likely be attributed to the disruptions, restrictions, and stress imposed on children and adolescents and their families during the pandemic.”

Madigan and colleagues combined data from 53 longitudinal studies that compared pre-pandemic and pandemic symptoms of depression and/or anxiety in youth. Twenty-seven studies reported data from North America (51%), 13 (24%) from Europe, 10 (19%) from Asia, 2 (4%) from Australia, and 1 (2%) from Israel. The combined sample included data from over 40,000 children and adolescents.

The meta-analysis found strong evidence that depression rose in children and adolescents during the pandemic. Larger increases in depression symptoms were seen among females compared with males, adolescents compared with children, and youth from mid- and high- income families compared with those from low-income families. The meta-analysis also revealed that anxiety symptoms slightly increased in the children and adolescents during the pandemic.

“Our results, as well as those of many other scholars, sound a clarion call to policymakers that a response is needed to directly address the mental health crisis being experienced by children and adolescents,” Madigan and colleagues concluded. “The development and widespread availability of timely and evidence-based global mental health prevention and intervention efforts to address childhood mental illness are critical and urgently needed.”

To read more on this topic, see the Psychiatric Services article “A Marshall Plan for Children’s Mental Health After COVID-19.”

(Image: iStock/Inside Creative House)

Be Aware of Data Scams

Numerous APA members have received unsolicited offers to sell APA’s membership list or list of Annual Meeting attendees or to register them for an APA meeting and make hotel reservations for them. If you receive such a message, please let us know by forwarding it to These offers are not related to APA and may be a scam. Registering for APA’s meetings or making a hotel reservation for an APA meeting through an agency or website other than through carries potential risks, such as identity theft or booking a room that does not exist.


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.