How lockdown has made Britain sicker | News | The Sunday Times

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Edinburgh University, in his book The Year the World Went Mad, explains: “We were being asked to give up our social lives: family visits, weddings, funerals, performing arts, playing and watching sports, many hobbies and pastimes — everything that, for most of us, makes life worth living. Societal well-being is extremely hard to quantify . . . but it is accepted as a vital part of the human condition.”

The number of antidepressant prescriptions were 5 per cent higher in 2020 than in the year before, peaking in March and April. Before the pandemic, 10 per cent of us suffered from moderate to severe depression, according to the ONS. That soared to 19 per cent in June 2020, and reached 21 per cent during the winter lockdown of January to March 2021. As of August 2021 — the latest data available — depression rates were 17 per cent, considerably higher than their pre-pandemic average. Separate studies are yet to show that level returning to normal.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, says: “Taking it all together, it does look like the young and old have fared badly during lockdowns. With the old it could be argued that it was that or Covid-19, and with it a high risk of death — but children were not anywhere near as at risk as older people. Arguably for them, the negatives of lockdown outweighed the benefits.”

How lockdown has made Britain sicker | News | The Sunday Times