David Lazer in Forbes: Still Feeling The Psychological Effects Of The Covid-19 Pandemic? You’re Not Alone, Study Finds
by Alice G. Walton, Forbes
Mental health issues certainly aren’t rare—they never were. The fact that more people have come forth and talked about their own struggles in recent years, has made it even more apparent just how common they are. And as many know, the pandemic has contributed to a rise in depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts over the last 15 months: physical and social isolation, loss of work, fear of contacting or spreading the virus, and loss of loved ones have been hard to cope with, to say the least.
Even as we see a light at the end of the tunnel, with more people vaccinated and restrictions lifting, a new study finds that mental health issues haven’t yet followed suit. They may in the coming months, as we regain jobs, resume normal activities, socialize, and generally heal from the trauma. The real issue may be how to harness what we’ve learned about mental health during the pandemic and design structures and policies that support it in a larger way moving forward.
Researchers from Harvard, Northeastern, Northwestern, and Rutgers Universities followed up on previous work and surveyed over 21,000 people from all 50 states and DC from April 1 to May 3, 2021. They asked them questions to capture their symptoms of depression and anxiety, how they were sleeping, and whether they’d had suicidal thoughts.
The group reporting the highest levels of at least moderate depression—a startling 42%—were young people, ages 18-24. By contrast, just 10% of people over 65 reported depression.
“Younger adults have lives that are more dynamic than older adults,” said researcher David Lazer in a news release. “They’re finishing school, getting a job, starting a family, all things that are more likely to be disrupted by the pandemic.”