Lockdowns, social distancing, the economic crisis and the absence of festive activities with family and friends weigh heavily on the morale of men and women, to the point that one in three adults in the world is estimated to be suffering psychological distress as a result of the pandemic. Women and young adults seem to be most affected.
The covid-19 pandemic, which began a year ago, continues to pose significant threats to public health around the world. Not only are case numbers not decreasing in many regions, especially with the arrival of new variants, but health professionals, along with many organizations, are beginning to sound the alarm about the negative impact of the tightening of health measures on the population's mental health.
Researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore report that one in three adults suffers from psychological distress related to covid-19. Their report was published in the scientific journal PLOS One. According to them, the pandemic has increased the burden of psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and insomnia disorders, particularly among women, young adults, and those with the lowest socio-economic status.
To reach this conclusion, the authors of this survey conducted a meta-analysis of 68 studies conducted during the pandemic, involving no fewer than 288,830 participants in 19 countries. They found that one in three adults suffered from depression and anxiety, but also that certain segments of the world's population were more affected, such as women, young people under the age of 35, people living in rural areas, and those considered at high risk of covid-19 infection.
Mental health of young demographics particularly affected
The factors that increased the risk of psychological distress in adults during the pandemic are not yet completely clear, with researchers not able to pinpoint them precisely. "Understanding these factors is crucial for designing preventive programmes and mental health resource planning during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, These factors could be used to identify populations at high risk of psychological distress so they can be offered targeted remote and in-person interventions," said Professor Tazeen Jafar, the study's lead author.
For younger populations, the researchers note that they may be more affected due to greater access to information about covid-19 through the media; previous studies have shown that greater media exposure is associated with a higher likelihood of anxiety and depression.
"The general public and healthcare professionals need to be aware of the high burden of psychological distress during the pandemic as well as education on coping strategies. Patients need to be encouraged to seek help, and access mental health counselling services with appropriate referrals," concluded Professor Jafar.