Thursday, August 20, 2020

40% of U.S. Adults Reported Worsening Mental Health in Late June Due to Pandemic, CDC Finds

U.S. adults reported worsening mental health associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Young adults, individuals who identified as Black and/or Hispanic, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported disproportionately worse mental health outcomes.

“Addressing mental health disparities and preparing support systems to mitigate mental health consequences as the pandemic evolves will continue to be needed urgently,” wrote Mark É. Czeisler of the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia; Emiko Petrosky, M.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Response Team; and colleagues.

The researchers conducted web-based surveys of 5,470 adults aged 18 and older across the United States from June 24 to 30. The surveys used the Patient Health Questionnaire to assess whether respondents had symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorders and the Impact of Event Scale to assess trauma- and stressor-related disorder symptoms. Respondents were also asked if they had started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to the pandemic and if they had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days.

Overall, 40.9% of respondents reported symptoms of at least one adverse mental health condition, including anxiety, depression, and increased use of substances to cope with stress related to the pandemic. About a quarter of the respondents reported symptoms of trauma- and stressor-related disorders (including posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, and adjustment disorders) related to the pandemic.

The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days was significantly higher among those aged 18 to 24 years, members of minority/racial ethnic groups, self-reported unpaid adult caregivers, and essential workers. “Community-level intervention and prevention efforts, including health communication strategies, designed to reach these groups could help address various mental health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote.

Compared with results of similar surveys conducted in 2019, the prevalence of anxiety disorder symptoms was three times higher, while the prevalence of depressive disorder was four times higher.

“Markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions,” the authors concluded. “Expanded use of telehealth, an effective means of delivering treatment for mental health conditions, including depression, substance use disorder, and suicidal ideation, might reduce COVID-19-related mental health consequences.”

(Image: iStock/Juanmonino)

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