Study finds greater depression in communities where people rarely left home during COVID-19 pandemic


Boston- Higher levels of depressive symptoms have been reported during the COVID-19 pandemic than at any other time in history, and are three times higher than before the pandemic. A team led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has found that social isolation may be a contributing factor. Their findings have been published jama network open,

In surveys conducted between May 2020 and April 2022, which were completed by 192,271 adults living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, the average county-level proportion of individuals who do not leave the house on a daily basis was associated with higher levels of depression. Was connected. symptoms.

Lead author Roy H. Perlis, MD, MSc, Associate, explains, “We integrated our data with another data set compiled by Facebook, which looked at aspects of mobility based on an app, including traffic in a particular area. How many times did people come out of the house? Head of Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Quantitative Health at MGH. “We found that in communities and at times when fewer people left the house, levels of depression were higher in our survey.”

This link persisted even after considering local COVID-19 activity, weather, and county-level economics. Some pandemic restrictions – in particular, mandatory mask-wearing in public and policies canceling public events – were modestly related to depressive symptom severity, but these associations were much smaller than the magnitude of the association with community mobility.

“In most analyzes we used cross-sectional data—measurements of community mobility and depression at the same time. But when we looked at the relationship between mobility and subsequent depression in a community, we saw similar effects,” Perlis says.

The investigators say finding ways to increase social connectedness and limit social isolation during times of limited mobility could be key to reducing the effects of future pandemics or other long-lasting disasters on their mental health. Some of the impacts could potentially be mitigated.

Co-authors include Kristin Lunz Trujillo, PhD, Alauna Safarpour, PhD, Alexey Quintana, BA, Matthew D. Simonson, PhD, Jasper Perlis, Mauricio Santillana, PhD, Catherine Ognyanova, PhD, Matthew A. Baum, PhD, James N. . Druckman, PhD, and David Lazar, PhD.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, Northeastern University, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Rutgers University.

About Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The Mass General Research Institute operates the largest hospital-based research program in the country, with annual research operations of more than $1 billion and involving more than 9,500 researchers working in more than 30 institutes, centers and departments. In July 2022, Mass General was named #8 US News & World Report List of “America’s Best Hospitals”. MGH is a founding member of the Mass General Brigham Healthcare System.

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