In a new study, researchers found that one in three adults, particularly women, younger adults, are experiencing psychological distress related to COVID-19
The research was conducted by a team at Duke-NUS Medical School.
COVID-19 continues to pose serious threats to public health across the globe, and interventions such as lockdowns, quarantine, and social distancing are having an adverse impact on the mental well-being of populations.
The pandemic has escalated the burden of psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and insomnia.
However, the factors linked to psychological distress among adults in the general population during COVID-19 are not yet well known.
In the study, the team performed a meta-analysis of 68 studies conducted during the pandemic, encompassing 288,830 participants from 19 countries, to assess anxiety and depression among the general population.
They found that, among the people most affected by COVID-19-related anxiety or depression, women, younger adults, people of lower socioeconomic status, those living in rural areas, and those at high risk of COVID-19 infection were more likely to have psychological distress.
The finding that women were more likely to experience psychological distress than men is consistent with other global studies that have shown that anxiety and depression are more common in women.
Younger adults, aged 35 and under, were more likely to experience psychological distress than those over the age of 35.
It might be due to younger people’s greater access to COVID-19 information through the media.
This current study also confirmed that longer media exposure was linked to higher odds of anxiety and depression.
Other factors of psychological distress included living in rural areas; lower education, lower income or unemployment; and being at high risk of COVID-19 infection.
However, having stronger family and social support and using positive coping strategies were shown to reduce the risk of psychological distress.
The team says even with the tremendous advances on the vaccine front, the world has come to realize that the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us for the long haul.
This study contributes valuable insights on the pandemic’s psychological toll on populations around the world and highlights specific groups who may benefit from additional mental support.
One author of the study is Professor Tazeen Jafar.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
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