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CDC Warns of Alarming New Side Effect of COVID-19

Leah Groth

When it comes to assessing the damage done by COVID-19, most health experts focus on three statistics: number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. However, according to new research physical health isn't the only aspect of our wellbeing that is being impacted by the highly infectious virus spreading around the world. Many people, specifically young adults, Black, and Latino people are suffering mental health woes in the form of depression, anxiety, increased substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts. 

According to a new survey of 5,470 individuals released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 40 percent reported struggling with at least one sign of declining mental health. For example, three times more people experienced anxiety in the coronavirus world than during the second quarter of 2019, and four times as many reported experiencing depression. 

Anxiety or Depression Attributed to the Pandemic

One of the researchers, Mark Czeisler, explains that young people between the ages of 18 to 24 were more adversely impacted. He claims that nearly 63 percent experienced anxiety or depression attributed to the pandemic. Nearly one quarter copped to coping by increasing their use of substances, while almost 11 percent admitted to having suicidal thoughts. 

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The survey also identified Black and Latino people, essential workers and unpaid caregivers for adults, as more at risk for mental health issues. And, men were more likely to contemplate suicide then women. 

"Markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions," the study authors explain. They suggest identifying at risk populations and giving them the tools they need.

"Community-level intervention and prevention efforts, including health communication strategies, designed to reach these groups could help address various mental health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic," they said. 

Virtual Therapy Can Help

While in-person therapy might not be safe, there are other options, including virtual therapy. "Expanded use of telehealth, an effective means of delivering treatment for mental health conditions, including depression, substance use disorder, and suicidal ideation, might reduce COVID-19-related mental health consequences," they add. 

Whether you fall into one of these at-risk groups or not, these new findings are a stark reminder that mental health should not be overlooked during the pandemic. In fact, taking care of your yourself mentally may be more important now than ever. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.