People who may have had long Covid more likely to be depressed and anxious – ONS
People who have had or suspect they may have had long Covid are almost twice as likely to have experienced depression as those who do not think they have ever contracted coronavirus, research suggests.
Some 6.2% of adults said they may have experienced long Covid when polled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) between April 7 and June 13.
Of these, 30% reported experiencing moderate to severe depressive symptoms in the last two weeks.
This compares to 16% of respondents who did not think they had contracted coronavirus.
A quarter (25%) were likely to have some form of anxiety, compared with 15% of people not believed to have been hit by Covid.
The ONS said it is not possible to infer cause-and-effect relationships from the results, warning that associations could be the result of other factors such as age, sex, disability status or deprivation level.
People who may have had long Covid were also more likely to say their wellbeing, work and household finances had been affected.
The ONS pooled 10 waves of data on 39,268 respondents aged 16 years and over in Great Britain.
The total proportion of those who may have had long Covid was split into 3.6% who said they had experienced long Covid, and 2.6% who said they were unsure.
Women, disabled adults, those aged between 30 and 49 and those living in the most deprived parts of England were more likely to say they may have had long Covid.
Some 57% of adults who may have had long Covid said this had negatively affected their wellbeing, while 39% said their ability to exercise had been affected.
Considering only those who were sure they had experienced long Covid, 72% said their wellbeing had been negatively affected and 48% said the same about their ability to exercise.
People who said they may have had long Covid were more likely to report often or always feeling lonely (10%) compared to people who do not think they have ever had the virus (6%).
And they were more likely to say their work had been affected by the pandemic (44% versus 36%) and their household finances (22% versus 13%).
Tim Vizard, ONS principal research officer, said: “Although no single definition of long Covid exists it is likely it affects people in different ways and research is already showing the potential impacts on physical health.
“Today’s research highlights the potential for people’s mental health, well-being or work to be impacted by long Covid.
“We’ve found more people who may have had long Covid report negative impacts, however more work is needed to disentangle the effects of long Covid from a variety of factors such as age, sex or disability.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus said: “These striking figures highlight the immense impact long Covid is having on people’s day-to-day lives, and the total inadequacy of the Government’s response so far.
“From people’s mental health to their household finances, the shadow cast by long Covid over our society is even worse than feared.
“Boris Johnson’s reckless choice to allow cases to surge risks leaving more people with this debilitating condition, with devastating consequences for the economy and NHS.
“An urgent strategy is needed to respond to the threat posed by long Covid and provide support to the thousands of people suffering from the long-term consequences of this pandemic.”
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