Oblique results of the COVID-19 pandemic coincide with a heavy psychological well being burden

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The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of people not directly affected by the disease. This is shown by a new study in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

In a unique Australian mental health survey, researchers found that people in countries with low infection and death rates – like Australia at the start of the pandemic – are still twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. These results are largely related to financial stress and disturbances in people’s social life.

“We already know from previous pandemic research that the most severely affected people, such as those who get sick and / or hospitalized, and their caregivers are more serious. However, the effects of COVID-19 on the wider population are relatively less affected countries are likely to be significant too, “says lead author Dr. Amy Dawel from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

“Our data shows that COVID-19 by-products affect the population to a large extent, despite the large impact on physical illness, and there is concern that countries with severe restrictions that appear to be circumventing the worst of COVID-19 may overlook this the indirect effects of the pandemic. “

Dr. Dawel and her staff surveyed nearly 1,300 Australian adults in March 2020 for an overview of the mental health of the population after the first COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. At this point, the authorities had recently closed international borders, bars and restaurants, and limited social gatherings. Participants included a representative distribution of the population with equal numbers of men and women and participants from all ages over 18 from all Australian states and territories.

In order to avoid possible bias, the survey was designed in such a way that participants do not know the aims of the study. Instead, the researchers took the survey on market research bodies with no mention of COVID-19 or mental health when recruiting studies.

Because the survey was held in the early stages of the pandemic, only 36 respondents said they had been diagnosed with COVID-19 or had a close contact who had been diagnosed. There were also relatively few people who had been tested, had isolated themselves, or knew someone who had had any of these experiences.

Surprisingly, these cases of COVID-19 exposure showed no association with any mental health effects. In contrast, financial burdens and disruptions to work and social activities were significantly associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety and decreased mental wellbeing. However, working from home was not associated with any ill effects.

Higher rates of mental health symptoms were also seen in people who were younger, identified as female, or reported having a history of mental illness.

“We hope this data shows that the way countries are dealing with COVID-19 is likely to affect the mental health of their populations beyond those most directly affected by the disease,” says Dawel. “It is important for governments and policymakers to recognize that minimizing social and financial disruption should also be a central goal of public health policies.”

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More information:
Frontiers in Psychiatry, DOI: 10.3389 / fpsyt.2020.579985, www.frontiersin.org/articles/1… syt.2020.579985 / full

Quote: Indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic coincide with severe psychological stress (2020, October 6th), which was announced on October 6th, 2020 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-indirect-effects-covid -pandemic-coincide was retrieved .html

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