National and State Trends in Anxiety and Depression Severity Scores Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic - United States, 2020-2021

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Oct 8;70(40):1427-1432. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7040e3.


Recent studies indicate an increase in the percentage of adults who reported clinically relevant symptoms of anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic (1-3). For example, based on U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey (HPS) data, CDC reported significant increases in symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders among adults aged ≥18 years during August 19, 2020-February 1, 2021, with the largest increases among adults aged 18-29 years and among those with less than a high school education (1). To assess more recent national trends, as well as state-specific trends, CDC used HPS data (4) to assess trends in reported anxiety and depression among U.S. adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) during August 19, 2020-June 7, 2021 (1). Nationally, the average anxiety severity score increased 13% from August 19-31, 2020, to December 9-21, 2020 (average percent change [APC] per survey wave = 1.5%) and then decreased 26.8% from December 9-21, 2020, to May 26-June 7, 2021 (APC = -3.1%). The average depression severity score increased 14.8% from August 19-31, 2020, to December 9-21, 2020 (APC = 1.7%) and then decreased 24.8% from December 9-21, 2020, to May 26-June 7, 2021 (APC = -2.8%). State-specific trends were generally similar to national trends, with both anxiety and depression scores for most states peaking during the December 9-21, 2020, or January 6-18, 2021, survey waves. Across the entire study period, the frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms was positively correlated with the average number of daily COVID-19 cases. Mental health services and resources, including telehealth behavioral services, are critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • United States / epidemiology