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COVID-19 did not affect mental health as you think

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You may have heard that the coronavirus pandemic caused a global mental health crisis. This story settled almost as quickly as the virus itself. Spring 2020 paper rear paper— But Editorial By one of us — we were warned about an upcoming psychological epidemic.As clinical scientists and research psychologists have It pointed outThe coronavirus pandemic has created many conditions that can lead to psychological distress. Sudden and widespread turmoil about people’s lives and social connections. Millions are bereaved. And the most vulnerable people are exposed to long-term difficulties. The global collapse of happiness seemed inevitable.

I participated Mental Health Task Force, Consignment Lancet, To quantify the psychological effects of a pandemic. Examining the best available data, we found that some groups, including those facing financial stress, were experiencing significant life-changing suffering. However, when I looked at the world’s population as a whole, I was surprised that I did not feel the prolonged misery that I had expected.

We surveyed nearly 1,000 studies that surveyed hundreds of thousands of people from nearly 100 countries. The study measured many mental health-related variables and life satisfaction, including anxiety, depression, and suicide death. We focused on two complementary types of evidence. A study that investigated groups of comparable people before and during the pandemic, and a study that followed the same individual over time. Neither type of study is perfect, but when both evidences came to the same conclusion, we were confident that we were seeing something real.

Early in the pandemic, our team observed what the media reported in these studies: average levels of anxiety and depression-and broader psychology. pain— As was the case, the number of people experiencing clinically significant forms of these conditions has risen dramatically.For example, in both We..And NorwayIn March and April 2020, reports of depression tripled compared to the average collected the previous year.And in the above research 50,000 people across the UK, 27% showed a clinically significant level of distress early in the pandemic, compared to 19% before the pandemic.

But when spring turned into summer, something amazing happened.Average levels of depression, anxiety, and distress autumn..A few data set It even suggested that overall psychological distress would return to pre-pandemic levels by early summer 2020. from now on Psychological Perspective..

I continued to dig into the data to explain the anomaly. For example, some datasets were taken disproportionately from wealthy countries, so we expanded the geographic lens. He also thought that even if the pandemic did not cause long-term severe distress, it could undermine people’s overall life satisfaction. Therefore, members of our team investigated the largest dataset available on the topic. Gallup World Poll.. The survey asks people to rate their lives on a 10-point scale. Here, 10 is the best life and 0 is the worst. Representative samples from most countries in the world answer this question each year, allowing you to compare the results of 2020 with those of the previous year. Looking at the world as a whole, there was no evidence of a decline in life satisfaction. The average living rating of people in 2020 is 5.75, which is the same as the previous year’s average.

I also suspected that the survey had not reached the people who were struggling the most. If you barely put things together, you may not be able to answer the phone call from the researcher. However, Real-time data From April to July 2020, there was no detectable increase in suicide cases compared to the previous year, according to official sources from 21 governments. In fact, in some countries, including the United States, suicide rates have actually dropped slightly. For example, California estimates that 1,429 people will commit suicide during this period, based on data from the last few years. Instead, 1,280 occurred.

We were surprised that many people successfully overcame the psychological challenges of a pandemic. To understand these patterns, we looked back on the findings of classical psychology. People are more resilient than they are aware of. we Please try to imagine That negative life event-losing a job or a romantic partner-is devastating for months or years.But when people actually experience these losses, their Misery tends to fade Much faster than they had imagined.

The ability to withstand difficult events also applies to trauma such as surviving war and being seriously injured. These incidents can cause considerable pain, and we do not want to minimize the pain that many suffer.But Post-study research It shows that the majority of survivors either bounce quickly or never show a significant reduction in mental health.

Humans have what some researchers call Psychological immune systemMany cognitive abilities that allow you to get the most out of it even in the worst of situations. For example, after breaking up with a romantic partner, people may focus on their original annoying habits or enjoy their new free time.

A pandemic is a test of the global psychological immune system and looks more robust than we guessed. People became creative when the sources of fun around them evaporated in the spring of 2020. They participated in drive-by-birthday parties, mutual support groups, virtual cocktail evenings with old friends, and nightly cheers for healthcare professionals. Some people are really good at baking. Many have found a way to recreate social tapestries. In fact, across multiple large datasets, Lonely Compared to 11% in the spring of 2018, 13.8% of adults in the United States reported feeling lonely all the time or often in April 2020, showing only a slight increase.

But these broad trends and averages must not eliminate the real struggles (extreme pain, overwhelming loss, financial hardship) faced by so many people in the last 17 months. For example, a 2.8% increase in the number of Americans who reported loneliness last spring is equivalent to 7 million. Like so many aspects of the pandemic, the mental health sacrifices of the coronavirus were not evenly distributed. In the early stagesSome segments of the population, including female and toddler parents, showed a particularly marked increase in overall psychological distress.As a pandemic ProgressedPersistent mental health challenges are disproportionate to those facing financial problems, those suffering from COVID-19, and those suffering from physical and mental health problems prior to the pandemic. Affected. The resilience of the population as a whole does not relieve leaders of their responsibility to endure the most severe suffering and provide specific support and access to mental health services to those at greatest ongoing risk.

But the amazing resilience most people have shown in the face of the sudden changes brought about by the pandemic has its own lessons. It turns out that being able to respond to temporary lifestyle changes, such as working from home, giving up traveling, and quarantining, is better than some policy makers envision.

Looking at the next big challenge in the world, Future pandemic— We need to remember this hard-earned lesson. Humans are not passive victims of change, but active managers of our own well-being. This knowledge should empower us to make the disruptive changes that our society may need, even if we support the most devastated individuals and communities.

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