Science

Unemployment, media consumption trigger depression amidst Covid-19

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 21, 2020 Published on September 21, 2020

There is a strong connection between mental health and exposure to media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic

‘It’s critical that we prioritise providing resources to the unemployed, poor or chronically ill people, and young people’

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, published in the journal Science Advances, the general public in the United States is witnessing rising acute stress and depressive symptoms.

The authors of the study stated that this has a direct link with multiple stressors triggered by the ongoing pandemic. The stressors include unemployment and media consumption, among others.

Lead author E Alison Holman, UCI Professor of Nursing, said in the study: “The pandemic is not hitting all communities equally. People have lost wages, jobs and loved ones with record speed.”

He added: “Individuals living with chronic mental and physical illness are struggling; young people are struggling; poor communities are struggling. Mental health services need to be tailored to those most in need right now.”

The authors noted in their study that there is a strong connection between mental health and exposure to media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also read: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/fatigue-persists-regardless-of-covid-19-severity-study/article32657515.ece

The research highlighted the need to step away from television, computers and smartphones to protect psychological well-being.

Roxane Cohen Silver, Professor of Psychological Science and one of the study’s principal investigators, said in an official statement: “The media is a critical source of information for people when they’re faced with ambiguous, ongoing disasters.”

“But too much exposure can be overwhelming and lead to more stress, worry and perceived risks,” she added.

For the study, researchers conducted a national survey of more than 6,500 US residents in March and April 2020.

“Over the course of the study, the size of the pandemic shifted dramatically,” Holman said.

Researchers maintained that people surveyed later in the study period reported the highest rate of acute stress and depressive symptoms.

The study stated that those with pre-existing mental and physical conditions are more likely to show both acute stress and depressive symptoms.

It added that secondary stressors — job and wage loss, a shortage of necessities — are also strong predictors in the development of these symptoms.

Also read: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/world/covid-19-threefold-increase-in-depression-symptoms-among-adults/article32520938.ece

The study also noted that extensive exposure to pandemic-related news and conflicting information in the news are among the strongest predictors of pandemic-specific acute stress.

“It’s critical that we prioritise providing resources to communities most in need of support right now — the unemployed, poor or chronically ill people, and young people,” Holman added.

He concluded: “We also encourage the public to limit exposure to media as an important public health intervention. It can prevent mental and physical health symptoms and promote resilience.”

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Published on September 21, 2020
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