Depression, anxiety spikes in US amid coronavirus pandemic: Study

2020-09-03 16:08:50
Depression, anxiety spikes in US amid coronavirus pandemic: Study

Anxiety and depression are rising among Americans amid the coronavirus crisis, new research suggests.

In the latest study to suggest an uptick, half of U.S. adults surveyed reported at least some signs of depression, such as hopelessness, feeling like a failure or getting little pleasure from doing things.

That’s double the rate from a different survey two years ago, Boston University researchers said Wednesday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

For some people, it stems from lost loved ones and the financial distress and social isolation the outbreak has caused.

Experts say Americans are also feeling anxiety over the racial and political upheaval of the past few months.

“There is no question that many people in the U.S. and worldwide are experiencing real and often distressing emotional reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and, in some cases, to contracting the virus,’’ said psychiatrist Dr. Ronald Pies, a retired professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The global outbreak has caused more than 850,000 deaths and almost 26 million confirmed infections. U.S. cases total 6 million, with about 185,000 deaths.

The crisis has also thrown millions out of work, crippled the economy and forced shutdowns of restaurants, theaters and gyms.

Calls from March through July to the U.S. government-funded Disaster Distress Helpline, which offers counseling and emotional support, surged 335% from the same period last year.

“Helpline counselors have reported callers expressing feelings of isolation and interpersonal concerns related to physical distancing such as being cut off from social supports,” said Hannah Collins, a spokeswoman for Vibrant Emotional Health, a group that runs the helpline.

The survey was done before the U.S. spike in civil unrest, including the May 24 death of George Floyd, who authorities say was killed when a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes. Other studies have shown increases in depression symptoms after traumatic events and that it is likely the racial unrest has contributed to the anguish among Americans.

The US government launched a national campaign in July aimed at reducing high suicide rates, urging the public to reach out to others, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

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