Even with Kentucky’s anxiety and depression rates dropping since January, the state still ranks ninth for this measure in the U.S.

image: pulichealthnotes.com

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

While rates of anxiety and depression in Kentucky are among the top 10 states in the nation, the good news is that since January, those rates have dropped. THose findings that are consistent with what is going on across the nation, according to a Quote Wizard analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. “Our team of analysts found that while anxiety and depression levels increased during the first year of the pandemic, they have decreased dramatically throughout 2021,” says the report. “We found that nationwide, the number of people dealing with anxiety or depression increased by 6.3% in 2020 and has decreased by 23% throughout 2021.”

In Kentucky, that rate dropped 19% throughout 2021, with 34% of people in Kentucky reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression — the ninth highest rate in the nation.
Marie Timmerman, executive director of Mental Health America of Kentucky said she wasn’t surprised by these results, pointing to all of the uncertainty that Kentuckians experienced at the height of the pandemic as the likely cause for the increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the mental-health and substance-use-disorder pandemic in Kentucky,” Timmerman said in an e-mail. “I’m not surprised that anxiety and depression symptoms were going down as vaccines were becoming more widely available over the spring and summer months.”

The Quote Wizard analysis did not address substance-use disorders, but the state’s latest overdose report found that drug-overdose deaths in Kentucky rose 49% in 2020.

The analysis also looked at rates of anxiety and rates of depression in each state separately. In Kentucky 30% of people surveyed in August reported experiencing anxiety, a drop of 19% since the beginning of the year. The highest this rate has been in Kentucky during the pandemic is 38%, the report says.
Twenty-four percent of Kentuckians reported being depressed in August 2021, a drop of 22% since January. During the pandemic, the highest this rate got was 31%.
Nationwide, women reported having higher anxiety and depression levels than men, while older and more educated Americans have some of the lowest levels, says the report.

The researchers note that the decline in the number of people experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression coincides with a decline in the number of coronavirus cases and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

However, with the current surge in cases and subsequent restrictions — whether required or suggested — they also note that only time will tell if this new round of cases and restrictions will lead to an increase in anxiety and depression levels.
Timmerman encouraged Kentuckians to take a free Mental Health America of Kentucky mental health screening if they are concerned about their mental health. Click here for the link. For more resources or information, reach out to mhaky@mhaky.org or call 859-684-7778.

“It’s okay to have bad days,” she said. “It’s a real concern, though, when bad days become bad weeks that interfere with your ability to work or to attend to the activities of daily living. If you’re not sure if your mental health symptoms are a result of the day-to-day stress or are something more, a mental health screening is a great way to find out.”

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