20% of children facing lockdown suffer symptoms of depression and anxiety in China

20% of children facing lockdown suffer symptoms of depression and anxiety in China

Coronavirus has resulted in lockdowns in many parts of the world as local governments aim to contain the spreads of deadly virus. However, the spread of pandemic causing coronavirus has been under control in China. Reports suggest that there hasn't been any coronavirus related death in China for 10th straight day.

Another side effect of lockdown is depression. The new study conducted in China hasn't found anything out of the ordinary. Health experts have been suggesting that social distancing or being at home leads to depression among individuals at high risk.

Staying at home has also led to an increase in the number of fights between couples. Earlier reports from China suggested a spike in divorce rates in the regions facing severe lockdowns.

Researchers in Hubei province, China -- where the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was first identified -- surveyed 1,800 students and found that roughly 20 percent reported either depression or anxiety, or both.

Dr. Margarita Alegria, chief of the Disparities Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said during a conference call with reporters that, in the United States, where there is greater income inequality, these problems could be more pronounced.

"The poverty that we have, and the inequities might make it even harder for people because they may not feel they are being treated equally," she said. "I'm not sure that was the case in China."

The JAMA Pediatrics study out of Hubei compared mental health among children in Wuhan, where the outbreak started and lockout measures were most stringent, with another community. The authors found that, in general, students living in Wuhan experienced more depression symptoms and greater anxiety over the future than those living in the other community, where the lockdown was less pronounced.

"COVID-19 has catapulted disparities in health outcomes (in the U.S.) center-stage," Alegria said. As with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Maria in 2018, people of color are bearing the brunt of school closures, job loss and family stress, she added, "and we need to meet the needs of these communities."