How does COVID-19 affect people’s mental health?

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Credit: Source: COVID States Project. View: Eunice Esomonu / Northeastern University

Coronavirus-induced anxiety and depression continue to exert a mental toll on U.S. residents, especially among young adults, even when rising vaccination rates in the U.S. and declining COVID-19 cases indicate a gradual return to pre-pandemic rhythms, according to a new one poll by researchers from the Northeast, Harvard, Northwest, and Rutgers.

Since researchers began conducting periodic surveys of U.S. residents about the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, respondents have indicated no improvement in the prevalence of sleepless nights, , anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

About 28 percent of the 22,000 U.S. residents surveyed reported levels of depression that would normally require professional treatment. The researchers found that it dropped slightly compared to the 30% peak in December 2020, but remained about three times higher than the previous one.

Twenty-three percent said they had considered suicide, roughly the same as in December.

Adults aged 18 to 24 (usually college students and first-time parents) were the most affected by the psychological consequences of blockages, social isolation and online learning, with the most recent survey showing that 42% of them reported at least moderate depression. This figure fell from 47% in October, but remained the highest of all age groups.

Respondents aged 65 and over were the least affected, with only 10% reporting feeling depressed.

“Younger adults have more dynamic lives than “says David Lazer, a professor of political science and computer science at the university’s northeast and one of the researchers who conducted the study.” They are finishing their studies, getting a job, forming a family, whatever they are most likely to be. disturbed by the pandemic “.

By a large gap, high rates of depression were more common in parents with children at home (35 percent) than those without children (25 percent). The stress of juggling their children’s remote education and the demands of their jobs were the likely reasons, Lazer said.

The survey found that 51% of respondents who say they suffer from depression are people who have not yet been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Among those who have received a coronavirus vaccine, 32% reported symptoms of depression. People with depression are open to getting vaccinated, but may face barriers to getting their shots, according to the survey.

“Because they are depressed, they are less able to translate their preferences [to get inoculated] in action, “Lazer suggests.” There is definitely an association with vaccination and non-depression. “

Asian Americans reported an increase in depression rates (from 27% to 27%), Lazer said, likely triggered by a sharp rise in violent acts against Asian Americans during the pandemic. While the number of Asian Americans reporting depression has generally been lower than any other racial or ethnic group, the responses of Asian Americans are now similar to all but Hispanic respondents, who constantly report rates. of higher depression with 33%.

President Joe Biden issued a proclaim marking April as National Mental Health Awareness Month, which said nearly one in five Americans lives with a mental illness. Even before COVID-19, the prevalence of mental illness was increasing, with about 52 million adults experiencing some form of mental illness in 2019, according to the proclamation.

“The mental health of young people is also deteriorating, with nearly 10% of young Americans reporting severe depression,” the president wrote. “We need to treat it like the public health crisis we are facing and reverse that trend.”

Northeastern’s Lazer says the survey was conducted between April 1 and May 3, more than a week before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people should not wear masks. nor keep a distance from others inside or outside, with a few exceptions.

The CDC announcement could boost people’s spirits and repair some of the psychological damage caused by the pandemic. Lazer and his research colleagues plan to gather more data in the summer, when people will enjoy their first maskless vacation in a long time.

“Ask me in six weeks, because we’ll be back in June and then we’ll be able to see if people are much happier,” he says.


During the first nine months of the pandemic, depression and anxiety rose sharply among Americans.


Citation: How does COVID-19 affect people’s mental health? (2021, May 21), retrieved May 21, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-covid-affecting-people-mental-health.html

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