On March 30, 2021, ZEIT online claimed More hospitalizations of children with depression. Already before Covid 19 the number of young patients with depression increased by 24 percent in 2019. This claim turns out to be mostly true.
The article addresses the issue of depression in children and adolescents. The author says that even before the pandemic, depression was rising sharply in young patients. He refers to the results of a study by the Federal Statistical Office. The study “Number of psychotherapists increased by 19% from 2015 to 2019” was published on March 30, 2021. In this study, it is about the numbers of psychotherapists, numbers of children and adolescents with depression and the numbers of psychotherapy students. The numbers of the study of the Federal Statistical Office to which ZEIT online refers in the article, say that the number of children and adolescents treated as inpatients has increased by 24 percent from 2015 to 2019. In 2015 there were 14,500 young patients and in 2019 there are 18,000 who were treated for depression.
Is the source trustworthy?
The Federal Statistical Office is a very reliable source, as they provide data on all relevant social issues. This information is available to everyone and has been collected objectively. The Federal Statistical Office must adhere to the BStatG, the Federal Statistics Act, and is therefore a safe and trustworthy source. The Federal Statistics Act states that current data on mass phenomena are to be collected, processed and analyzed. This is to be done neutrally, objectively and professionally independently. The task of the Federal Statistical Office is, according to the Federal Statistics Law §3 Abs.1.1, to prepare and develop statistics for federal purposes (federal statistics) methodically and technically in consultation with the statistical offices of the Countries. Prof. Dr. Michael Kölch, Deputy President of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Rostock, confirmed in an interview that the figures of the Federal Statistical Office from 2015 to 2019 are correct.
Looking at the figures from 2015 to 2019 from the Federal Statistical Office on the number of hospitalizations for depression in children and adolescents, they agree with the figures in the article “More hospitalizations of children with depression.” So the factcheck seems to be correct.
What is the relation of Covid 19 to the numbers?
The article gives the impression that it’s not a Covid 19 related phenomenon. But the Federal Statistical Office only talks about the numbers from 2015 to 2019. Covid 19 appeared in Germany at the beginning of 2020. To see the development of the numbers of children and adolescents who have depression related to Covid 19, the numbers from 2020 are needed. Prof. Dr. Michael Kölch pointed out that the figures from 2020 cannot yet be available in their entirety, as it always takes about two years to record such figures. Therefore the published figures of the study from 2015 to 2019 can not be compared with the figures of 2020. In order to be able to make the statement that there was already before Covid 19 an increase of depressions of children and young people, the numbers should be compared with each other.
The statement that there was an increase before the Corona pandemic is right. But considering that the figures since the beginning of the pandemic are still unknown the comparison should not be drawn. The article allows the conclusion that Covid 19 doesn’t have such an impact on hospitalizations of children with depression as assumed. But as Prof. Dr. Michael Kölch pointed out a further increase related to Covis 19 is to be expected.
In short: The fact that the author gives the correct numbers of children and adolescents with depression from 2015 to 2019 is mostly true. There has been an increase, but it cannot with certainty be linked to Covid 19.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Femke Hertger, Prusche Aryan, Jade University of Applied Sciences Wilhelmshaven, DE
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