Mental Health Effects of the Pandemic – Exhibitor
The start of this decade began with a life-changing pandemic, COVID-19. With more than 45,107,253 cases reported in the United States from January 3, 2020 to October 25, 2021 and 730,306 deaths reported during the same period, it is no surprise that there were substantial health impacts. mental among all generations of American citizens. These data come from the World Health Organization.
The main impacts of this pandemic can be seen in increasing rates of depression and anxiety. Before discussing these impacts, however, it is important to know the definitions and symptoms of these mental illnesses.
According to the American Psychological Association, depression is defined as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects the way you feel, the way you think and the way you act.” The APA also lists symptoms of depression as:
Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
Loss of interest or pleasure in formerly popular activities
Changes in appetite – weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Loss of energy or increased fatigue
Increased aimless physical activity (eg, inability to sit still, pacing, wringing their hands) or slowing down movements or speaking (these actions must be serious enough to be observable by others)
Feel worthless or guilty
Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
Thoughts of death or suicide
APA defines anxiety as “a normal reaction to stress” and “the anticipation of future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior”. They also state that to be diagnosed with anxiety, the fear or anxiety experienced by a person must “be out of proportion to the situation or inappropriate for age” and / or “interfere with their ability to function normally”.
In an attempt to quantify rates of depression in adults in the United States, the Harris Poll conducted an online survey on behalf of the APA. The surveys took place between February 19 and 24, 2021 and included 3,013 American adults. They titled this survey the Pandemic Anniversary Survey.
This survey found that â2 in 3 Americans (67%) said they were sleeping more or less than they wanted since the start of the pandemic. Similar proportions reported less (35%) and more (31%) sleep than desired. “
The 2020 Stress in America Survey, also conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the APA from August 4-26, 2020, said that Gen Z adults in particular “are most likely to report experiencing common symptoms depression, with more than 7 in 10 noting that in the past two weeks they have felt so tired that they sat down without doing anything (75%), felt very agitated (74%), had had trouble thinking correctly or concentrating (73%), felt lonely (73%), or felt miserable or unhappy (71%). The survey included results from 3,409 American adults and 1,026 American teens aged 13 to 17.
As stated above, we can see that the disruption in sleep patterns is categorized as a symptom of depression. However, these data cannot be used to specifically quantify rates of depression among American adults. The link that can be observed between the COVID-19 pandemic and the results of the investigation is however quite interesting.
Other data from the 2020 Stress in America survey examines the stress levels of American adults and adolescents. With their data, they found that âAlmost 8 in 10 adults (78%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a major source of stress in their lives. And, 2 in 3 adults (67%) report experiencing increased stress during the pandemic. “
Specifically, when looking at data collected from adults belonging to Generation Z, the overall stress level, on a 10-point scale, increased. The APA reports that âStress levels among Gen Z adults have increased slightly over the past two years, from 5.6 in 2018 and 5.8 in 2019 to the peak of 6.1 recorded in 2020. “
Using this data and our knowledge that a major cause of anxiety is stress, we can infer, but not conclude, that the overall rate of anxiety among adults in the United States is increasing.
So far, the data mentioned has focused on specific symptoms, but these surveys have also looked at the general mental health of American adults.
The Pandemic Anniversaries Survey looked at generational differences and the likelihood of people of different generations saying their mental health deteriorated compared to their mental health before the pandemic. This survey found that “Generation Z adults (46%) were the generation most likely to say their mental health had deteriorated from before the pandemic, followed by X-ers (33%), millennials (31%), baby boomers (28%) and seniors (9%).
The 2020 Stress in America found similar results with their survey.
Overall, it seems easy to draw conclusions about the effects of the pandemic, but keep in mind that data from two surveys conducted by the same organization is not enough to say for sure how the pandemic impacted Americans. the United States.
The CDC offers some tips for dealing with disasters, including taking care of your body, connecting with others, taking breaks, and seeking professional help when you need it. You can read more about this on the CDC website by searching for a page titled âDealing with Disaster or Traumatic Eventâ.
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