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Living alone during the pandemic impacts mental health of young adults more than older adults, study finds

Younger adults living alone during the pandemic are more likely to report feeling anxious or depressed than older adults, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data.

Eighteen to 44-year-olds reported higher rates of anxiety and depression than other age groups in the bureau's ongoing survey. Those 65 and older reported the lowest rates of anxiety and depression.

The data comes from The Household Pulse Survey and was collected from Oct. 28, 2020 through Nov. 9, 2020. The Census Bureau sent survey invitations to more than a million households and received responses from nearly 60,000 so far. 

The survey is ongoing through March, but the U.S. Census Bureau said it’s releasing near real-time information to help federal and state governments respond to the pandemic. 

The 20-minute survey is done online asks four questions about mental health over the previous seven days, two about anxiety symptoms and two about depression symptoms.

The results so far have found younger adults who live alone are much more likely to report feeling anxious or depressed during the pandemic than older adults living alone. 

Nearly 51% of those between 18-44 years old who live alone reported having anxiety in the last week. Nearly 40% of those in the 45-64 age group said they had felt anxious, while only 26% of those 65 and older did. 

Nearly 45% of those between 18-29 who live alone reported having symptoms of depression in the last week. The number dropped slightly in the 30-44 age group, with 40% reporting symptoms of depression. In the 45-64 age group, 33% reported symptoms and only 22% did in the 65 and older group. 

The U.S. Census Bureau said money and health were major contributors to how surveyors who lived alone responded. 

The U.S. Census Bureau said about 51% of those living alone who had lost or were expecting to lose income during the pandemic reported anxiety, compared to only about a third who didn’t have a financial disruption. 

About 44% of those living alone who had lost or were expecting to lose income during the pandemic reported depression, compared to about 26% who didn’t have a financial disruption. 

Another contributing factor was overall health. Adults living alone who reported excellent overall health reported lower rates of both anxiety and depression. Only 23% reported symptoms of anxiety and 16% reported symptoms of depression.

In adults living alone who said they were in poor health, around 65% reported symptoms of both. 

Overall, about 36% of all adults reported feeling anxiety in the previous week and 28% reported feeling depressed, regardless of living condition.

The survey found adults who live alone were nearly just as likely to report feeling anxious and depressed overall as those living in a home with children. Those living in a home with other adults were the least likely to report feeling anxious or depressed. 

You can read more about the survey from the US Census Bureau here.  

The U.S. Census Bureau partnered with the National Center for Health Statistics for the study.

RELATED: US surpasses 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, more than any other country in the world

The U.S. Census Bureau released this data just days before the COVID-19 death toll topped 400,000 people in the country. 

The grim milestone comes as nearly two-thirds of states report rising COVID-19 deaths amid a winter surge and warnings that a new, highly contagious variant of the disease has made its way into the country.