How does the Covid-19 pandemic affect our mental health? Moreover, are we able to bounce back from it?
Before the pandemic, mental disorders were the leading cause of health-related burdens on society, with depressive and anxiety disorders being its leading contributors. The pandemic seems to have made matters much worse. A recent worldwide study in the Lancet found that the daily Covid-19 infection rates in the news and the reductions in mobility could be associated with increased prevalence of major depressive and anxiety disorder. According to this study, women were affected more by the pandemic than men, while younger age groups were more affected than older age groups.
As the Covid crisis drags on, including the measures that come with it, our mental wellbeing is under pressure. According to a Belgian survey, the number of Belgians who indicated suffering from anxiety and depressive feelings was never this high and is comparable with the beginning of the pandemic: 21% of the adult respondents say they suffer from depression and 24% deal with anxiety. “Especially this last Omicron wave has taken a heavy toll on those who thought the worst was behind us”, says Belgian researcher Stefaan Demarest of Sciensano.
Another study published last November stated that 36% of French students surveyed said they had depressive symptoms during the first lockdown, and 50% reported the same symptoms during the second one. The same trend was found regarding anxiety symptoms, with 27.5% of the students surveyed reporting them, while the figure stood at 16.9% for non-students. On top of that, 12.7% of students reported suicidal thoughts, compared to 7.9% among non-students.