Young women are more likely to have experienced high levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness in lockdown, compared with older adults, according to new research from the University College London Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
The study, published as a briefing paper, also found that young women (aged 30 years) have shown the biggest increase in mental health problems since they were previously assessed some years before compared with middle-aged (aged 50 years) and older adults (aged 62 years).
The research team carried out a survey in May 2020 of over 18,000 people born in 1958 (aged 62 years), 1970 (aged 50 years), 1989-1990 (aged 30 years) and 2000-2002 (aged 19 years) in Britain, to explore the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and well-being of four generations of people. The survey was completed by participants of nationally representative longitudinal cohort studies, which have been following their lives since childhood.
The researchers found that poor mental health in lockdown was most common among the 19-year-olds surveyed, followed by the 30-year-old 'millennials'.
Across all four age groups, women were more likely than men to experience mental health problems. Among 19-year-olds surveyed in May 2020, 23 per cent of males and 34 per cent of females had high levels of depressive symptoms and 19 per cent of males and 35 per cent of females had high levels of anxiety.
At age 30 years, 14 per cent of males and 20 per cent of females had high depressive symptoms and 15 per cent of males and 23 per cent of females reported high levels of anxiety symptoms.
By comparison, 7 per cent of 62-year-old men and 10 per cent of 62-year-old women had symptoms of depression.