UT Southwestern Medical Center

Depression, anxiety may be side effects as nation grapples with COVID-19

15-Apr-2020 5:10 PM EDT, by UT Southwestern Medical Center

Newswise — DALLAS – April 15, 2020 – Millions of Americans are being impacted by the psychological fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath, and large numbers may experience emotional distress and be at increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety, according to a new article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine

The Perspective articleco-authored by Carol North, M.D., a UT Southwestern crisis psychiatrist who has studied survivors of disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, calls on already stretched health care providers to monitor the psychosocial needs of their patients as well as themselves and fellow health care workers during this time.

"Almost everyone may experience some distress – some more than others,” says North, a member of UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute who wrote the article with first author Betty Pfefferbaum, M.D., a psychiatrist at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. While conditions arising from a naturally occurring pandemic do not meet the criteria for trauma required to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety may result from this pandemic, according to the article, and some people may even become suicidal.​

Shortages of resources needed to treat patients, uncertain prognoses, and public health measures such as shelter-in-place orders – along with the resulting financial upheaval – are among the “major stressors that undoubtedly will contribute to widespread emotional distress and increased risk for psychiatric illness associated with COVID-19,” the article says.

Certain groups will be more highly affected, according to the paper. That includes people who contract the disease, those at heightened risk including the elderly and people living with underlying health conditions, and those with preexisting psychiatric or substance abuse problems.

Health care providers are also especially vulnerable to emotional distress during the pandemic, the paper continues, given their risk of exposure amid shortages of personal protective equipment, long work hours, and involvement in the “emotionally and ethically fraught” need to allocate scarce resources when treating patients.

A recent review of the effects on quarantined people and health care providers in earlier disease outbreaks found stress, depression, insomnia, fear, anger, and boredom, among other problems, the article says.

While not directly comparable, many who went through other catastrophic events such as 9/11 or 1995’s Oklahoma City bombings developed depression as well as PTSD, says North. After 9/11, 26 percent of the attack’s survivors developed a new episode of major depression, according to an earlier study she co-authored. But COVID-19 is new territory, she emphasizes. “We haven’t studied depression in pandemics.”

The pandemic is creating a multilayered disaster, North says.

“There is the fear of being exposed and getting sick and dying, as well as loss of the lives of friends and relatives. Then there are secondary effects – lost paychecks and the economic woes. Rates of suicide go up in populations when economic times get bad. People get stressed more in general when times are bad,” she says.

First responders and health care professionals should be trained to evaluate the psychosocial issues surrounding COVID-19, the report says, and health care systems need to pay attention to the stress level of their workers and alter assignments and schedules if needed.

Health care workers should ask patients about COVID-19-related stress factors, such as an infected family member and any depression or anxiety, and also check for vulnerabilities like a preexisting psychological condition. While some patients will need a referral for mental health care, others may benefit simply from support to improve their ability to cope.

Providers can offer suggestions for stress management. Because parents often underestimate their children’s distress, they should be encouraged to have open discussions to address their children’s reactions and concerns, the report adds. 

People in quarantine or sheltering at home should try to reach out to loved ones electronically, North says. “People are now communicating more with loved ones and friends than they did before this crisis. For example, I did a Zoom meeting with my siblings recently for the first time. It was very nice.”

Maintaining a schedule helps as well, she says: “Get up. Have breakfast. Get dressed.”

And avoid following the COVID-19 news if that adds to stress, North says.

“Most people are resilient. Most people don’t develop psychiatric illness after even horrible things, and most people who develop psychiatric illness can recover,” she says. “After 9/11, only a third of the people directly exposed developed PTSD (35 percent in her study).”

North holds the Nancy and Ray L. Hunt Chair in Crisis Psychiatry.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,500 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 3 million outpatient visits a year.

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 2468
Newswise: sharon-mccutcheon-8lnbXtxFGZw-unsplash-1024x683.jpg
Released: 6-Jul-2020 4:50 PM EDT
COVID-19 demonstrates why wealth matters
Washington University in St. Louis

While COVID-19 has impacted all individuals, the impact has not been equal. In a new national Socioeconomic Impact of COVID-19 survey, the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis found that liquid assets increased the likelihood that an individual could practice social distancing. However, Black individuals were least likely to afford social distancing.

Newswise: University of Miami Launches COVID-19 Heart Program
Released: 6-Jul-2020 2:50 PM EDT
University of Miami Launches COVID-19 Heart Program
University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

A new COVID-19 Heart Program developed by cardiologists with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is addressing the varied heart issues stemming from the pandemic with comprehensive screenings and evaluations in a safe clinical setting. It also incorporates the latest findings from UM cardiology researchers studying how the coronavirus can affect the heart and its surrounding tissues.

Released: 6-Jul-2020 1:40 PM EDT
US hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, azithromycin outpatient prescriptions October 2019-March 2020
JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association

What The Study Did: How the prescription of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to outpatients has changed in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic is examined in this study.

Newswise: What Is the World Doing to Create a COVID-19 Vaccine?
Released: 6-Jul-2020 1:10 PM EDT
What Is the World Doing to Create a COVID-19 Vaccine?
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

The race to find a vaccine for the new coronavirus is well underway. Governments and researchers are aiming to provide billions of people with immunity in eighteen months or less, which would be unprecedented.

Released: 6-Jul-2020 12:10 PM EDT
Increased risk of injury in contact sports after prolonged training restrictions
University of Bath

As professional sports look to make a phased return behind closed doors across much of Europe, researchers from the University of Bath caution that the prolonged individual training players have been exposed to for months is insufficient to help athletes maintain the physical fitness and mental strength they need for competition.

Newswise: Mission to Mars: @UNLV Scientist Gives Insider Glimpse at NASA's 2020 Rover Mission
Released: 6-Jul-2020 11:55 AM EDT
Mission to Mars: @UNLV Scientist Gives Insider Glimpse at NASA's 2020 Rover Mission
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)

Silver, bug-eyed extraterrestrials zooming across the cosmos in bullet-speed spaceships. Green, oval-faced creatures hiding out in a secret fortress at Nevada’s Area 51 base. Cartoonish, throaty-voiced relatives of Marvin the Martian who don armor and Spartan-style helmets. We humans are fascinated with the possibility of life on the Red Planet.

Released: 6-Jul-2020 11:00 AM EDT
Asthma Does Not Seem to Increase the Severity of COVID-19
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Asthma does not appear to increase the risk for a person contracting COVID-19 or influence its severity, according to a team of Rutgers researchers.

Newswise: Follow-Up Appointments for Children Hospitalized for Bronchiolitis May Not Be Needed; New Study Findings Could Guide Treatment During COVID Pandemic
6-Jul-2020 8:05 AM EDT
Follow-Up Appointments for Children Hospitalized for Bronchiolitis May Not Be Needed; New Study Findings Could Guide Treatment During COVID Pandemic
Intermountain Healthcare

A new study at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City has found that follow-up appointments for hospitalized children treated for childhood bronchitis are often not necessary, and that switching from mandatory to “as-needed” follow-up care can save families from unnecessary medical care and expense – and may help guide treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Released: 6-Jul-2020 10:45 AM EDT
Innovations for sustainability in a post-pandemic future
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

According to the latest report released by The World in 2050 (TWI2050) initiative, the COVID-19 crisis can provide an opportunity to create sustainable societies with higher levels of wellbeing for all.


Showing results

110 of 2468

close
1.52127