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A pandemic can cause a “second wave” of mental health problems

“A second wave of devastation is imminent due to the mental health consequences of Covid-19,” write authors Dr. Naomi Simon, Dr. Glenn Sachs, and Dr. Charles Marmar, all of New York University’s Grossman Medical School.

“The scale of this second wave is likely to overcome the already worn-out mental health system, leading to access problems, especially for the most vulnerable.”

Researchers predict that this second wave of mental health will lead to additional challenges, such as increased suicide mortality and drug overdoses, and will have a disproportionate effect on the same groups that the first wave did: blacks and Spaniards, older people, more low socio-economic groups and health workers.

“This magnitude of death in a short period of time is an international tragedy on a historical scale, “the authors say. This interpersonal loss is aggravated by social disorders. “

The authors are of major importance writes, is “the transformation of normal grief and distress into prolonged grief and major depressive disorder and symptoms of post-traumatic health disorder.”


Grief that lasts longer

Prolonged grief, which affects approximately 10% of mourners, is characterized by at least six months of intense longing, employment, or both, with the deceased; emotional pain; loneliness; difficulties in reintegration into life; avoidance; the feeling that life is meaningless; and an increased risk of suicide. These conditions can also become chronic with additional comorbidities, such as substance use disorders, the authors say.

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10% affected by prolonged grief are likely to be underestimated by the grief associated with Covid-19 death, and each death leaves about nine family members in grief, the authors say. This means that there are an estimated 2 million mourners in the United States, and “the effect of Covid-19 deaths on mental health will be profound.”

Of particular importance to the authors are the psychological risks to health and other important workers. “Supporting the mental health of these and other essential workforces is crucial to preparing for a recurring pandemic wave,” the authors say.

Covid-19 already affects mental health

The pandemic has already brought with it a mental health crisis, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a new report finds that Americans experience more coronavirus-related mental health problems than people in other countries.

Data from the CDC study report that nearly 41% of respondents are struggling with mental health problems stemming from the pandemic. The issues are related to the pandemic and the measures designed to limit it, including orders to stay at home and social distance.

Nearly 41% of respondents reported one or more behavioral or mental conditions, including substance use, depressive symptoms, or suicidal thoughts.

The number of Americans reporting anxiety symptoms was three times higher at the same time last year, according to the CDC, and several studies show that the pandemic has hit blacks and other people of color the hardest.
The pandemic has also taken its toll on caregivers, according to the Blue Cross Association. A national analysis of at least 6.7 million caregivers provided by the association found that 26% of unpaid caregivers trying to balance work and family due to Covid-19 were more stressed and in poor physical health. than before the pandemic.

The New York authors suggest that the decision will require more funding for mental health; widespread screening to identify those most at risk; primary care physicians and mental health professionals who are trained to treat people with prolonged grief, depression, traumatic stress and substance abuse; and a diligent focus on families and communities, creatively reconstructing the approaches they have used to manage losses and tragedies across generations.

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