U.S. Mental Health Crisis: ⅓ Of Americans Show Signs Of Depression Or Anxiety

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“It’s understandable given what’s happening. It would be strange if you didn’t feel anxious and depressed.”

Recent findings from data collected by the Census Bureau shows the psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Washington Post.

  • The Census Bureau launched the “emergency weekly survey of US households at the end of April to measure the pandemic’s effects on employment, housing, finances, education and health,” wrote The Post. The most recent surveys showed data from more than 42,000 households out of the 1 million that were contacted between May 7 and 12.
  • The data found 24 percent of Americans showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder and 30 percent showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, The Post reported.
  • In addition, the data revealed that “before the pandemic, 25 percent of adults in the US experienced depressed mood,” compared to during the pandemic, where 50 percent reported experiencing depressed mood.
  • The survey found that rates of anxiety and depression were far higher among younger adults, women, and the poor. “The worse scores in young adults were especially notable, given that the virus has been more likely to kill the elderly or leave them critically ill,” the report wrote.
  • These trends reflect a rise in depression, stress, and suicide among young adults.

“It’s been a problem many have been studying with no clear answers — whether it’s social media or the way this generation was reared or just a greater willingness to talk about their problems,” said Maria A. Oquendo, a psychiatry professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “What’s worrying is the effect this situation is clearly having on young adults.”

The findings also suggest that the poor have been hit much harder, “throwing into even sharper relief mental health disparities that have long existed,” according to The Post.

  • “Throughout the crisis, lower-income people have struggled more with unemployment, food scarcity, and low-wage jobs that don’t allow them to work from home and that offer few financial and physical protections,” the report continued.
  • A Kaiser Family Foundation Poll released in April found that “nearly half of Americans reported the coronavirus crisis is impairing their mental health,” and a survey from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevnetion found people are experiencing anxiety and sadness more often, The Post wrote.
  • Researchers have predicted that the country needs intervention, or else it will “experience a rise in suicides, substance abuse and overdose deaths.”

“It’s understandable given what’s happening. It would be strange if you didn’t feel anxious and depressed,” Oquendo, who is former president of the American Psychiatric Association, said. “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.”

Mental health experts call for increased governmental action to support Americans’ mental health conditions.

  • Even before the pandemic, mental health services in the country were “severely underfunded and riddled with problems of access, disparities and insurance roadblocks,” The Post reported.
  • In the past couple months, Congress spent trillions of dollars in emergency funds, but almost none of it addressed the mental health implications of the coronavirus outbreak.

Oquendo commented, “Now that the government knows how widely people are suffering, the question is what are they going to do about it.”

Read the full report here.

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