Sunday, October 17, 2021

Mental disorders rose globally during lockdowns

Covid Anxiety Is a Health Problem Too | Wall Street Journal - Dr. Marc Siegel:

October 15, 2021 - "In New York City, I often see people walking down the sidewalk, masks hanging low over their chins, looking fearful and dodging one another. The health benefit from these wary rituals is minimal to nonexistent, and they illustrate the toll that fear of Covid-19 has taken on mental health.

"A new global study published in the Lancet examines 48 data sources in an attempt to quantify that toll. The authors report a world-wide increase of more than 129 million cases of major depression and anxiety disorders compared with pre-pandemic figures. They attribute this to the 'combined effects of the spread of the virus, lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, decreased public transport, school and business closures, and decreased social interactions, among other factors.'

"The rise in mental-health problems was correlated with both infection rates and restrictions on personal behavior: 'We estimated that the locations hit hardest by the pandemic in 2020, as measured with decreased human mobility and daily SARS-CoV-2 infection rate, had the greatest increases in prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders'....

"As in previous studies, the mental-health effect was most severe on younger people, likely because their need for social interactions is stronger and their social lives depend more on people outside the household. They are also at considerably less risk of severe disease, so restrictions pose a relatively heavy burden on them primarily for the benefit of their elders.

"From the beginning of the Covid outbreak in China, studies have found a connection between the severity of lockdowns and depression rates.... In most states, the average anxiety and depression scores increased during the late summer, fall and winter of 2020, while lockdowns were still in place. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost a third of adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder in late April and early May 2021, triple the number in 2019 before the pandemic started. But in South Dakota, which has had very few restrictions, the numbers were lower, with 24% reporting these symptoms.

"Government overreach in closing schools has caused a great mental health tragedy among our young. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared the Covid-19 pandemic the most severe disruption to education in history, with 1.6 billon learners in more than 190 countries out of school at some point in 2020.... A University of Washington study published last month by the Journal of the American Medical Association surveyed more than 2,300 American parents and found that remote learning negatively affected mental health and that 'older and Black and Hispanic children as well as those from families with lower income who attend school remotely may experience greater impairment to mental health than their younger, White, and higher income counterparts.'

"Badly conceived methods for stopping infection can be harmful to public health. Lockdowns and business closures were based on a model that ... proved ineffective at containing SARS-CoV-2, ... while causing enormous psychic damage. Even many people who didn’t get sick with Covid-19 will never be the same again."

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