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Depression in UK doubles during pandemic, official data shows

LONDON, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The proportion of people in Britain suffering with depression has almost doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, official data showed on Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 19% of adults reported some form of depression during June, compared with 10% in the nine months to March 2020. Stress and anxiety were the most common types of depression listed by people, it said.

The data raises questions about the wider public health costs of a pandemic that has already left Britain with the highest excess mortality rate among major European countries, according to a recent ONS analysis.

“Adults who were young, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic,” said Tim Vizard, ONS principal research officer.

One in eight adults developed moderate to severe depression during the pandemic, the ONS said. Only one in 25 saw an improvement.

A surge in depression is also likely to further harm the economy, which has already suffered an historic blow from the pandemic and the national lockdown it prompted in March.

A 2018 study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development put the cost of mental health problems in Britain at around 4% of its annual economic output. (Reporting by Andy Bruce Editing by Gareth Jones)