Pandemic's Impact on Stress



Most of us have been affected emotionally, physically, socially, and/or economically by the pandemic. What had been ‘normal’ changed. Uncertainty, fear, social and economic changes, and disruptions to daily life increased anxiety and mood disorders. Persons experiencing COVID-19-related stressors, particularly financial, and social and emotional stressors indicate the critical role these stressors are play in increasing the risk of developing anxiety disorders in the U.S. When compared to pre-pandemic levels, U.S. adults were more than three times as likely to report symptoms for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, or both in 2020 compared to 2019. Each person’s responses to the lockdown and other pandemic reduction measures are influenced by their unique living situation, cognitive ability, personality and medical history.


The American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in American survey found that Americans were significantly affected by the COVID pandemic, and that the stressors are critically impacting our minds and bodies. Factors such as societal uncertainty, lack of ongoing social/work/school interactions impact us. Children, adolescents, and college-age individuals are impacted by their lack of social-emotional connectedness, inadequate education, and their parents’ situations (e.g., personal, social, employment). Children report anxiety, depression, irritability, boredom, inattention, and fear of COVID-19 are predominant new-onset psychological problems. Each child’s and adolescent’s vulnerability to the negative influence of the pandemic is determined by that child’s developmental age, educational status, pre-existing mental health condition, being economic underprivileged or being quarantined.


Most people have been impacted emotionally by the pandemic: the majority of adults report undesired psychological and physical changes such as significant weight gains; more than 2/3 report sleep changes; parents report increased stressed and, Gen Z (born 1995-2010) report their mental health worsened followed by Gen X (1965-1980) compared to other generations.


The prolonged stress resulting from the pandemic can promote anxiety, depression, and the inability to manage traumatic and negative emotions. Additionally, personal, social, and professional relationships have been affected by the constant fear of contagion. Telepsychology and technological devices have shown to be beneficial in decreasing the negative effects of the pandemic. Many people work with psychologists to promote their capacities to build their strengths and resilience in the face of these uncertain times.


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