COVID-19 deep impact on mental health


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shedding new light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our collective mental health.

Dr. Colleen Fogarty, the Department Chair for the University of Rochester Department of Family Medicine, discussed the study’s findings Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just issued the findings of a study that was done during the last week of June in adults across the United States,” said Dr. Fogarty. “They found that 40 percent of people surveyed has some symptom of mental health including anxiety, depression, trauma-related symptoms or substance abuse.”

The percentage of people indicating they felt one or more of these symptoms raise serious concern about the overall mental health of Americans. “In the findings about 30 percent of the folks interviewed had symptoms of an anxiety or depression-related disorder,” said Dr. Fogarty. “Twenty-six percent had symptoms related to a trauma or stress-related disorder specifically related to the pandemic and about 13 percent of people surveyed talked about increasing their substance abuse in order to cope with the pandemic or the stress or emotions related to it, so these are big numbers that are really important to know.”

Dr. Fogarty added the percentage of people who seriously considered suicide was 10 percent and that percentage was much higher among essential workers. This is a good time to keep a close eye on those you love to spot the signs of a mental health crisis. Dr. Fogarty said, “For depression, specifically the loss of interest in usual activities, being sad, down, or blue, anxiety-related symptoms would be the inability to control worries, constantly focusing on signs of doom and gloom in the world, an over-focus on the pandemic – they would be common signs. And any change in behavior. If someone is typically up and ready to go in the morning and they just can’t get out of bed, they just can’t find the motivation, those are all serious signs.”

If you or someone you love are feeling down there are people who can help. Dr. Fogarty said check in with your primary care physician or team. “The offices are doing in-person visits and they’re also still able to do video visits. Sometimes it may be hard for a person to talk with their physician or nurse practitioner about this, but we really encourage you – if you’re not feeling yourself – please come talk to us. We’re skilled at identifying and assisting with things.”

The National Suicide Hotline is open 24-hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

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