TRENDING

The first lockdown led to a significant increase in depression symptoms among children

The symptoms of depression among children got much worse during this period.

Lockdown is meant to prevent the spread of infection from one person to another, to protect ourselves and others.

This is distressful and uncertain. Even as some places start to open up again after months of lockdown, the end may still seem a long way off. Someone might have lost their job and struggling financially.

Not only adults, but lockdown impacted children’s mental health as well.

Children have many worries about the consequences of COVID-19, such as whether they will see their friends and relatives, go to school or get sick. It is often difficult for parents to calm their children’s anxieties because of the uncertainty in their lives.

Lockdown is meant to prevent the spread of infection from one person to another, to protect ourselves and others.

This is distressful and uncertain. Even as some places start to open up again after months of lockdown, the end may still seem a long way off. Someone might have lost their job and struggling financially.

Not only adults, but lockdown impacted children’s mental health as well.

Children have many worries about the consequences of COVID-19, such as whether they will see their friends and relatives, go to school or get sick. It is often difficult for parents to calm their children’s anxieties because of the uncertainty in their lives.

The most immediate method of estimating the relationship between the beginning of lockdown and children’s mental health is to follow the same individuals throughout a timeframe and search for changes – so-called ‘longitudinal’ changes.

Lockdown is meant to prevent the spread of infection from one person to another, to protect ourselves and others.

This is distressful and uncertain. Even as some places start to open up again after months of lockdown, the end may still seem a long way off. Someone might have lost their job and struggling financially.

Not only adults, but lockdown impacted children’s mental health as well.

Children have many worries about the consequences of COVID-19, such as whether they will see their friends and relatives, go to school or get sick. It is often difficult for parents to calm their children’s anxieties because of the uncertainty in their lives.

The most immediate method of estimating the relationship between the beginning of lockdown and children’s mental health is to follow the same individuals throughout a timeframe and search for changes – so-called ‘longitudinal’ changes.

A new study from the University of Cambridge highlighted the unintended consequences of school closures. It suggests that the first lockdown led to a significant increase in symptoms of depression among children.

Scientists tested changes in emotional wellbeing, anxiety, and depression symptoms during lockdown since their initial assessment by studying data from mental health assessments on 168 children (aged 8-12 years) before and during the UK lockdown. These assessments included self-reports, caregiver-reports, and teacher-reports.

As a result, scientists found that children tended to show more symptoms of depression during the lockdown. However, these symptoms vary across children; the impact of lockdown can still be seen because the effect size is large. Using variability in scores, scientists estimated how significant an increase this is.

Dr. Duncan Astle from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and senior author of the study said, “To give an indication of how large this effect is, imagine ranking the children into 100′ centiles’ depending on their scores. A child in the 50th centile would be exactly in the middle of the distribution. But a child at this position before the pandemic could expect to be at the equivalent of the 77th centile during the lockdown.”

Giacomo Bignardi, a Ph.D. student at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, said“National lockdowns with mass school closures are unprecedented, so going into this crisis, no one could say definitively what impact it would have on children.”

“Our study is one of the first to follow the same children overtime during the lockdown and suggests that symptoms of depression among children got much worse during this period. This effect was independent of children’s age, gender, and family socioeconomic status.”

Scientists noted, “how the lockdown measures impact children’s mental health may depend on a variety of factors. A recent study found that loneliness in children was associated with subsequent mental health problems, particularly depression. Also, during the lockdown, children had fewer opportunities to engage in play and other fun activities that help improve mood.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Bignardi, G et al. Longitudinal increases in childhood depression symptoms during the COVID-19 lockdown. Archives of Disease in Childhood; 9 Dec 2020; DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2020-320372

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