June 10, 2020

Psychological distress, loneliness up during COVID-19 pandemic

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

A new survey from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health finds that the number of Americans with severe psychological distress and loneliness are up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comparing results of this April 2020 survey with a similar survey in 2018, the researchers found that:


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  • symptoms of severe psychological distress in US adults was 13.6% in 2020 vs 3.9% in 2018
  • symptoms of psychological distress were highest in adults aged 18 to 29 years (24% in 2020 vs 3.7% in 2018), adults with household income of less than $35,000 per year (19.3% in 2020 vs 7.9% in 2018), and Hispanics (18.3% in 2020 vs 4.4% in 2018)
  • symptoms of severe psychological distress were lowest in those aged 55 years or older in 2020 (7.3%)
  • 13.8% of adults in April 2020 reported that they always or often felt lonely vs 11% in 2018.

The US needs to prepare for higher rates of mental illness among adults post-COVID-19, the researchers say.

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