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Pandemic-Induced Impairments in Work Impact Mental Health

Impairments in work and social functioning strongly linked with elevated depression, anxiety symptoms

TUESDAY, Oct. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Pandemic-induced impairments in work and social functioning are strongly correlated with elevated depression and anxiety symptoms and with decreased psychological well-being, according to a study published online Oct. 6 in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Amy Dawel, Ph.D., from the Australian National University in Canberra, and colleagues surveyed a representative sample from the Australian population at the early acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using well-validated scales, depression, anxiety, and psychological well-being were measured. The correlations between mental health and exposure to COVID-19 were assessed.

The researchers found that compared with usual population data, depression and anxiety symptoms were substantially elevated, including for individuals with no existing mental health diagnosis. There was a minimal association for exposure to COVID-19 with mental health outcomes. Strong correlations were observed for pandemic-induced impairments in work and social functioning with elevated depression and anxiety symptoms and with decreased psychological well-being. A key correlate of poorer mental health was financial distress due to the pandemic, rather than job loss.

“We hope that these data highlight that the way countries manage COVID-19 is likely to impact their population’s mental health, beyond those most directly affected by the disease,” Dawel said in a statement. “It’s important that governments and policy makers recognize that minimizing social and financial disruption should also be a central goal of public health policy.”

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