Americans are struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic after months of harsh lockdowns, widespread disease and economic suffering that has fallen disproportionately on the young, minorities and those who are most vulnerable to financial shocks.
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds the number of Americans reporting adverse mental health or behavioral changes — like drinking or drug use — on a perilous rise in recent months.
About a quarter of Americans reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder, three times higher than what a similar survey found a year ago. Those reporting depression has quadrupled, to nearly a quarter.
About 13 percent of Americans said they were drinking or using drugs more because of the stress of the pandemic. And almost 11 percent said they had seriously considered suicide in the last month, including more than a quarter of those between 18 and 24 years old.
In total, 41 percent of Americans said they were suffering from one or more symptoms of serious mental health problems. The CDC said treating those conditions was an essential part of the response to the pandemic.
“Markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions,” the authors wrote. “Addressing mental health disparities and preparing support systems to mitigate mental health consequences as the pandemic evolves will continue to be needed urgently.”
The CDC survey found younger people, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions caused by the pandemic in addition to essential workers and unpaid caregivers for adults. Most at risk are those who are already undergoing treatment for a previously diagnosed mental health condition.
More than 21 percent of essential workers had considered suicide in the last month, and a quarter of those workers said they were using substances more now than they had before the pandemic.
About one in five Americans say they know someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, while 8 percent say they know one of the approximately 160,000 people who have died in the United States.
The CDC survey included responses from 5,412 American adults between June 24-30.