The Pandemic’s Heavy, and Uneven, Toll on Mental Health

A nurse speaks to a patient's daughter outside a COVID-19 treatment unit. Coronado, CA, May 7, 2020.  Image: Mario Tama/Getty
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A nurse speaks to a patient's daughter outside a COVID-19 treatment unit. Coronado, CA, May 7, 2020. Image: Mario Tama/Getty

A third of Americans report signs of clinical anxiety or depression in a US Census Bureau poll, documenting COVID-19’s alarming impact on mental health.

That’s a huge jump from before the pandemic, with twice as many people reporting signs of depression compared to a 2014 survey.

“It’s understandable given what’s happening. It would be strange if you didn’t feel anxious and depressed,” says Maria A. Oquendo, a University of Pennsylvania psychiatry professor. “This virus is not like a hurricane or earthquake or even terrorist attack. It’s not something you can see or touch, and yet the fear of it is everywhere.”

But on top of the grief and uncertainty confronting everyone, the pandemic is sharpening preexisting health disparities—hitting younger adults, women, and the poor especially hard. Stress is mounting for low-income people facing with the pandemic without a financial safety net.

And, the impact on young adults is especially concerning, Oquendo says, as depression, stress and suicide have already been on the rise in that group.

The Washington Post

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