Australian scientists through a survey found that the restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic and their consequences had a negative impact on the mental health of the population. Because of this, people show symptoms of depression and anxiety. The research is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry .
“We already know from past studies of the pandemic that people who are most affected, such as those who are sick and caring for them, have serious side effects. However, the impact of COVID-19 on the general population, even those who are not ill , can also be significant. Our data shows that the side effects of COVID-19 affect the general population, regardless of the severity of the illness. The concern is that countries with tight restrictions that avoid the worst-case spread of the coronavirus may be overlooking the indirect effects of the pandemic, ”said lead author Ami Dowell .
Scientists at Australian National University surveyed about 1,300 Australian adults in March 2020. This was the time of the first coronavirus restrictions, when international borders, bars, restaurants were just closed in the country and crowds were banned. To ensure representativeness, the researchers surveyed the same number of men and women from all age groups over 18 years old, living in all states of Australia. To prevent bias, the authors included their survey in market research without mentioning either coronavirus or mental health; As a result, the subjects did not know about the purpose of the survey. According to the researchers, among those interviewed, there were only 36 patients with COVID-19 or closely communicating with the sick.
The results showed that direct infection with the coronavirus does not harm mental health. However, the side effects of the pandemic, such as financial hardship or interruptions in work and social activity, were found to be closely associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as lower psychological well-being. At the same time, working from home had no negative consequences. Young women were the most psychologically resistant to the side effects of the pandemic.
“These data underline that the methods used by states to combat COVID-19 affect the psychological health of the population, which itself did not get sick. It is important that governments and policymakers recognize that minimizing social and financial shocks should also be a central goal of public health policy, ” Dowell said .