Significantly more girls than boys suffered from an eating disorder or depression during the corona pandemic. This is the result of a study by the Central Institute of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (ZI) on mental illnesses and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents between 2014 and 2021. According to this, in 2021 adolescent girls were diagnosed 14 times more often with anorexia than boys. Most new cases were among 15 to 17 year olds, followed by 11 to 14 year olds.

More girls than boys also suffered from depressive disorders during the entire study period. Most recently, the incidence in 15 to 17-year-old girls was three times as high as in boys of the same age.

The health care atlas study is based on data from all children and adolescents aged 0 to 17 years who have used at least one panel doctor or psychotherapeutic service. According to the information, the team of authors led by first author Claudia Kohring had insight into the health data of almost 12 million young insured persons. In their study, the scientists determined trends for a total of 45 diagnoses between 2014 and 2021.

Anorexia diagnoses increased significantly

The study shows that the number of mental illnesses in children and adolescents has increased not only among girls, but also overall during the pandemic. According to this, anorexia diagnoses increased by 74 percent in 2021 compared to 2019. The number of depressive disorders has also increased disproportionately – between 2019 and 2021 by 27 percent. Anxiety, emotional and behavioral disorders have also been more common than usual during the pandemic.

“Like other public health studies before it, the accounting data we evaluated indicate a sometimes significant deterioration in the mental health of children and young people in the corona pandemic years 2020 and 2021,” said ZI CEO Dominik von Stillfried.

It must be assumed that the number of children and young people who are mentally stressed and in need of treatment is still higher than the study results. This is mainly due to the fact that some patients waited a long time for a place in therapy. This means: You have not yet used any statutory health insurance services and therefore do not appear in the examination data.