As United States residents continue to weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s taking a toll on their mental health, according to a new national survey led by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers universities. The latest results—released as the country enters the fourth month of a “new normal” governed by public health guidelines to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19—show that more than a quarter of U.S. residents (27 percent) “describe symptoms in a range that would be considered moderate or severe depression,” according to the report.
The figure is more than three times higher than what has normally been observed in large national surveys. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, for example, finds that roughly 8 percent of U.S. residents reported moderate to severe depression between 2013 and 2016.
“Clearly, contemporary events are putting us all under a lot of stress, and we wanted to know if it was noticeable by the standards of our survey,” says David Lazer, university distinguished professor of political science and computer and information sciences at Northeastern, and one of the researchers who conducted the study.