Healthline Mental Health Index: Week of April 19 — Healthline.com

Anxiety and depression, as measured by the PHQ-4 scale*, remain high among Healthline users, with 38% showing signs of moderate or severe depression vs. 21% of the U.S. population. However, we see positive improvements in both anxiety and depression, and in the percentage of users reporting potential symptoms of the virus in the most recent weeks.

Key Findings

  • Symptoms of the virus: The percentage of Healthline users reporting feeling symptoms of the virus has been trending down (22% in the most recent week vs. 32% 4 weeks ago). It remains significantly higher than the general U.S. population (4%).

  • Mental health: While anxiety remains elevated with 22% showing symptoms, it has been trending down from a high of 32% 4 weeks ago. Anxiety and depression, as measured by the PHQ-4 scale*, remain high, with 38% of Healthline users showing signs of moderate or severe depression.

  • Health questions: “What to do if I feel symptoms” (39%), “how seriously could I get sick if I contracted the virus” (37%), and “how to manage anxiety and stress” (29%) remain the top three questions among Healthline users. While not a top concern, how to deal with isolation appears to be trending up in the past 2 weeks relative to the previous 2 weeks, which mirrors the same finding among the U.S. population.

Supporting Graphs

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*For reference, the four-item Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) is a brief and validated questionnaire that consists of a two-item depression scale and a two-item anxiety scale. People are asked to indicate how often in the last 2 weeks they have been bothered by “feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge”; “not being able to stop or control worrying”; “little interest or pleasure in doing things”; and “feeling down, depressed, or hopeless.” The first two items provide a measure of anxiety, and the last two a measure of depression. Responses are scored from 0 to 3 with responses “not at all” scored as 0, “several days” as 1, “more than half the days” as 2, and “nearly every day” as 3. Scores equal or greater than 3 across the first 2 questions suggest anxiety. Scores equal or greater than 3 across the last two questions suggest depression. Total scores on the PHQ-4 scale are determined by adding together the scores of each of the four items and are rated as normal (0-2), mild (3-5), moderate (6-8), and severe (9-12).

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