Rates of Anxiety and Depression Symptoms Declined in 2021, Remained Higher than Pre-Pandemic
June 7, 2022
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the United States, anxiety and depression levels remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic rates. However, 2021 data shows a significant decline in reported anxiety and depression symptoms. Despite this encouraging trend, wide disparities in mental health symptoms persist across examinations of certain demographic categories – including younger adults and individuals with lower levels of education and income reporting substantially higher rates of anxiety and depression. SHADAC Research Assistant Hannah Geressu and SHADAC Researcher Colin Planalp used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) to study rates of anxiety and depression in the U.S. adult population throughout 2021.
This brief examines both combined and individual rates of reported anxiety and depression symptoms for the total adult population as well as by specific breakdowns, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, income categories, and education levels.
Though the data presented in this brief offer reason for hope regarding pandemic-related impacts on mental health in the United States, it is important that these rates continue to be monitored and addressed at local, state, and national levels – especially as it pertains to populations that are disproportionately impacted by depression and anxiety. While overall rates of anxiety and depression are beginning to trend downward when compared to early pandemic data, disparities across demographic groups remain present. Findings discussed in this brief can help public health officials and policymakers identify the need for intervention and outreach targeted at populations that have been especially affected by the mental health burdens of the pandemic.
Explore additional COVID-related SHADAC work using the HPS
In 2021, SHADAC published a version of this brief that leveraged 2020 Household Pulse Survey (HPS) data.
SHADAC also wrote a blog post that provided an overview of the HPS methodology as well as survey and questionnaire updates.
Additionally, SHADAC has used HPS data to track vaccination rates for a range of demographic groups, producing state-level estimates of vaccination rates for a biweekly blog series.
Finally, SHADAC produced a blog studying vaccine hesitancy rates among adults during the first part of 2021.