As Covid-19 intensified in the US, so did levels of stress and depression, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.
The study of more than 6,500 people found that several factors may have worsened people’s stress.
The biggest risk for symptoms of depression was a pre-existing mental health diagnosis prior the pandemic, researchers found.
But symptoms of stress and depression were also associated more with personal exposure, rather than public spread — suggesting “concerns about contracting the disease outweighed concerns about pandemic-related disruptions in daily life,” the researchers said.
“Approximately a quarter of the sample (23.5%) reported that they or a close other had been exposed to COVID-19 (e.g., experienced symptoms, were diagnosed),” researchers wrote in the report published Friday.
Employment also had a big impact, with those who lost their jobs suffering most, the study found.
The “data suggest that individuals who continued working during this early phase of the pandemic were less depressed than individuals who were not working, even though they were at greater risk for contracting the virus,” the researchers said.
Those “remaining employed as an ‘essential’ worker may have given new meaning to respondents’ work that reduced their risk for depression.”