The world has been hit by the most catastrophic pandemic of the century, which has impacted almost all areas of one’s lifeincluding health, finance and even something as personal as emotions. While COVID-19 has affected everybody at some point, and in some way, emotionally vulnerable people are suffering the most.
AUniversity of Southern California (USC) national tracking survey aimed at measuring the impact of coronavirus on the lives of Americans has revealed that residents of the U.S. experienced the highestlevels of anxiety and depression in early April 2020, since theoutbreak of the pandemic. The survey has been tracking around 7000 U.S. adults from mid-March 2020. It quizzes the adults about their opinion on COVID-19and how it has impacted their lives. The data from the survey is updated daily and is available to public as well as researches.
Impact of coronavirus on Americans
Nearly tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs since early April when the lockdown was first announced. This resulted in almost 40 and 29 percent American populationbeing anxious and depressed, respectively.Talking about the impact of unemployment on Americans, the survey stated that of those who lost their jobs due to the corona pandemic in early April, at least 45 percent were mildly distressed (anxious or depressed)while 8 percent were severely distressed.
“Early April was a tumultuous time for many, many people. Not only were we worried about the threat of COVID-19 but millions of people had just lost their jobs, and families were being forced to adjust rapidly to school closures and new routines.”
Daniel Bennett, assistant professor, Center for Economic and Social Research
It was found thatthe fear of contracting COVID-19 and its financial implications like unemployment, and concern about running out of money altogether, increaseda person’s mental distress multifold. Three out of five Americans believed they had the high risk ofcontracting COVID-19 or running out of money;whileone in fiveparticipantsbelieved they were at high risk of both the outcomes.
Loss of jobs during the lockdown worsened mental health of people
Women, as the study pointed out,were more vulnerable to mental distress than men during the time ofunemployment and financial insecurity, thanks to additional responsibilities such as childcare under stay-at-home orders.However, by the end of May, people learned to cope with their problems returning the levels of anxiety and depression to those observed in mid-March, that is, 27 and 25 percent respectively, irrespective of the employment status.
According to T. Em Arpawong, Assistant Professor, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, the survey results reflected the inherent ability of humans to survive, cope and move forward from a difficult situation after early setback.“People are able to bounce back by drawing on the resources available to them, including friends and family, financial resources, and their own inner strength,” she added.
Pandemic triggeredsense of loneliness among Americans
The study further reported that one out of three Americans felt lonely at least one day per week,compared to one in five who experienced the same before the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s an interesting finding given that lonely people arefour to five times more vulnerable to mild distress andarenine times more at risk of experiencing severe distress.
In another startling revelation, about half of the residents living aloneexperienced loneliness, which is significantly higher (30 percent) than those who lived with one other person. Moreover, people who became jobless during this period experienced more loneliness than people who were still employed (43 percent versus 30 percent).
The highest rate of stress, that is 46 percent, was recorded among the residents of the Los Angeles county. This was higher than the national average by eight points. Even in May, when the overall percentage of stress dropped, Los Angeles reported that 38 percent of its residents were still depressed. This was 11 points higher than the national average.
The study suggested a clear relationship between loneliness and distress. Lonely people are at a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. With restrictions on socializing and stay-at-home orders to cope with the pandemic, there is an increased risk of suffering from mental health problems. Therefore, it is important to practice de-stressing and rejuvenation techniques to stay motivated and cheerful.
Avoiding mental health problems during Covid-19 outbreak
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has published some guidelines to cope with stress during the pandemic.
- The pandemic can raise the risk of mental health related problems. Awareness can help cut this risk significantly.Know about the possible symptoms of COVID-19 and contact a health professional rather than panicking and self-treating for COVID-19.
- Keep handy complete details relatedtowhere and how to seek treatment as wellas availing support services such as counseling or therapy in case of a medical emergency.
- Don’t panic and take care of your behavioral health. This can help an individual think clearly and respond calmly to emergency needs.
- Restrict the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to unpleasant news stories, including those on social media. Focus more on entertaining yourself than hearing about the pandemic repeatedly. It can upset anybody, sick or healthy.
- Spare some time for your well-being. Practice rejuvenation techniques like stretching, deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
- Take care of your diet. Eat healthy, home-cooked and well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly and sleep well.
- Stay away from alcohol and drugs.
- Spend your free time pursuing hobbies or activities you find pleasurable.
- You may not be going out much but you can spend quality time with your family. Connect with people with positive vibes. Talk to them and share your feelings.
- Social distancing measures are in place, but other means of socializing like social media, phone or mailare still at your disposal.
COVID-19 has devastated millions of lives across the world. It is time to think positively and take care of your overall health. This is because mental health has a significant effect on one’s well-being asit affects how one thinks, feels and acts.
People with pre-existing mental health problems require more attention
People already battling substance use disorders (SUD) or other mental health conditions are particularly vulnerable in this emergency situation. It is important that they continue with their treatment and be aware of worsening or new symptoms.
If you or a loved one needs mental health services, get in touch with Medical Concierge. Call our 24/7 helpline 877-636-0042 and talk to our admission counsellors for information on inpatient mental health treatment centers. You can also chat online with our representatives for more information about residential treatment centers offering the best inpatient mental health facilities.