The Psychology of a Pandemic

Pandemics beget pandemics: What started as a physical health crisis quickly birthed a mental health one

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“Deaths of despair,” or deaths related to bleak economic or social circumstances, and those largely driven by suicide, drug and alcohol overdoses, and alcoholic liver disease. As we face COVID-19 with little end in sight, we have to wonder how the pandemic will influence rates of substance use in our country, and in turn, deaths of despair.”

Within the framework of a pandemic, some groups are more at risk for mental health issues than others. Young adults (between the ages of 18–29), who have been more likely to lose job prospects or graduate into a failing job market, and be laid off during the pandemic, have reported the highest levels of anxiety and depression due to corona, with 42% reporting the former and 36% reporting the latter. Even though this group is, largely safer than others from the virus, they are the most likely to have their social, school, job, and dating lives negatively impacted. Or, for months, completely ameliorated. In contrast, in the high risk group of those over 70 year old, only 16% reported anxiety. This decreased to 11% for those in their 80s, one of the groups highest at risk for dying from the virus.

“The link between unemployment, economic shock and suicide is highly replicated in population health. The anxiety of the virus with the economic shock, along with the physical distancing, is an unprecedented assault on mental health. By conducting this analysis, we are able to get ahead of the curve of mental illness and suicide.”

As the Covid-19 pandemic is still ravaging states, due to our admittedly disastrous attempts to contain it-or, in some cases, ignore it completely-it’s obvious. We need to do more to help fix our broken system when it comes to mental healthcare and our managed care systems. Coronavirus has helped to exacerbate mental health related symptoms to the point where it would be criminal to continue to ignore them any further, unless we want to loss more lives who lose could have been prevented.

Finance, healthcare, and technology nerd, aspiring writer, and pop culture junkie. All views my own. Work in progress.

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