Two in five people who find it very difficult to pay their energy bills have symptoms of depression, a new study has found.
The research by the Office for National Statistics looked at the links between the cost of living crisis and levels of depression in British adults. It found that rates of depression among adults remain above pre-pandemic levels, with the situation worse among those with the lowest incomes.
Some 40% of people who reported finding it very difficult to pay energy bills had symptoms of moderate to severe depression, the study found. This is five times higher than people who found paying the bills very easy (7%).
The link between money and mental health is complex and interconnected, and the study could not say that the cost of living crisis is directly causing higher rates of depression.
The report was based on a survey of over-16s across Great Britain carried out in September and October. Overall, prevalence of moderate to severe depressive symptoms was higher among the following groups of adults:
- Those economically inactive because of long-term sickness (59%)
- Unpaid carers for 35 or more hours a week (37%)
- Disabled adults (35%)
- Those in the most deprived areas of England (25%)
- Young adults aged 16 to 29 years (28%)
- People in a single person household (21%)
- Women (19%)
Around one in four (24%) of those who said paying their energy bills was quite difficult or very difficult experienced moderate to severe depressive symptoms, which is nearly three times higher than those who found it either quite easy or very easy to pay their energy bills (9%).
There was also a link between symptoms of depression and income. Around one in three working-age adults (29%) earning less than £10,000 a year had depressive symptoms, compared to just one in 12 (8%) earning £50,000 a year or more.