Stress, Depressive Symptoms Up With Increasing COVID-19 Deaths

Exposure to COVID-19-related media, conflicting COVID-19 information in media linked to symptoms

man on train wearing mask

MONDAY, Sept. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Acute stress and depressive symptoms have increased as COVID-19 deaths increased across the United States, with COVID-19-related media exposure and secondary stressors associated with these symptoms, according to a study published online Sept. 18 in Science Advances.

E. Alison Holman, Ph.D., from the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at the University of California in Irvine, and colleagues assessed acute stress, depressive symptoms, and direct, community, and media-based exposures to COVID-19 in three consecutive representative samples across three 10-day periods between March 18 and April 18, 2020 (6,514 individuals).

The researchers found that as COVID-19 deaths increased across the United States, there were increases in acute stress and depressive symptoms. Associations with acute stress and depressive symptoms were seen for preexisting mental and physical health diagnoses, daily hours of COVID-19-related media exposure, exposure to conflicting COVID-19 information in the media, and secondary stressors, including job and wage loss and shortage of necessities.

"It's critical that we prioritize providing resources to communities most in need of support right now -- the unemployed, poor or chronically ill people, and young people," Holman said in a statement. "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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