Rhitu Chatterjee

Joeller Stanton used to be an assistant teacher at a private school in Baltimore and made about $30,000 a year. In mid-March, when the pandemic was just starting, her school closed for what was supposed to be two weeks. "Up to that point, we were under the impression that it wasn't that serious, that everything was going to be OK," Stanton recalls.

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Nearly a quarter of people in the United States are experiencing symptoms of depression, according to a study published Wednesday. That's nearly three times the number before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

And those with a lower income, smaller savings and people severely affected by the pandemic — either through a job loss, for example, or by the death of a loved one — are more likely to be bearing the burden of these symptoms.

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An estimated 1 in 7 women struggle with depression during pregnancy and in the year after childbirth. NPR's Life Kit team has some tips on how to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression and where to look for help. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has more.

For the first time since 2014, death rates in the U.S. declined and life expectancy showed a modest uptick, according to new data released in two reports Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy at birth in 2018 was 78.7 years, 0.1 year longer than the previous year.

Sarah Edrie says she was about 33 when she started to occasionally get a sudden, hot, prickly feeling that radiated into her neck and face, leaving her flushed and breathless. "Sometimes I would sweat. And my heart would race," she says. The sensations subsided in a few moments and seemed to meet the criteria for a panic attack. But Edrie, who has no personal or family history of anxiety, was baffled.

Teri Hines was in her mid-40s when she started to notice that her body was changing.

Her period became irregular and more intense. "It increased in frequency, it increased in intensity and it increased in duration," she says.

She began to have hot flashes, gained weight and her energy levels took a nosedive.

"I just did not have the energy to do the things I wanted to do," she says, like the long morning walks she loved to take with her dogs, or planning solo travel.

As a young woman, Jennifer Ford struggled with anxiety and depression. When she got pregnant, her physician advised her to stay on the antidepressant she took to manage her symptoms.

Her first pregnancy and childbirth went smoothly, she says, but things were different after she gave birth the second time. "It's when I hit my wall," Ford says.

She remembers feeling overcome by grief immediately after she got home.

"I couldn't even communicate a full sentence about how I was feeling," recalls Ford. "All I could do was cry."

Updated on Jan. 2 at 4:55 p.m. ET

California can now begin enforcing new minimum standards for light bulb efficiency, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. It's the latest split between the state and the Trump administration, which has moved to reverse the same standards on a national level.

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Most people living in Western, developed countries are psychologically distinct from the rest of the world.

For one, they tend to be more individualistic and think of themselves as being independent of other people.

Childhood trauma causes serious health repercussions throughout life and is a public health issue that calls for concerted prevention efforts. That's the takeaway of a report published Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jennifer had a rough start to her pregnancy. "I had really intense food aversion and really intense nausea," says the 28-year-old mother of a five-month-old girl. "I wasn't eating at all."

She was losing weight instead of gaining it, she says, and couldn't even keep down her prenatal vitamins or iron pills, which she needed to deal with anemia. (NPR is only using her first name to protect her privacy.)

There's fresh evidence that eating a healthy diet, one that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and limits highly processed foods, can help reduce symptoms of depression.

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