Why Depression and Anxiety Are on the Rise

As we enter our second year of the global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, we, as a nation, are seeing large increases in the prevalence of anxiety and depression. That information comes by way of the US Census Bureau’s emergency coronavirus project — called the 2020 Household Pulse Survey — which was performed at the recommendation of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

At Bowman Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, Dr. Phillip Bowman, Dr. Sara Bobak, and the rest of the medical team understand the challenges that both depression and anxiety cause in even the best of times, and they want you to know that if you’re feeling depressed or anxious as a result of COVID, you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about the conditions, the virus, and what you can do to get the help you need.

Anxiety basics

Anxiety disorders are a category of mental health conditions that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, worry, and apprehension. They not only alter how a person processes emotions and behaves, but they also cause physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure and nausea.

Anxiety disorders make up the most common group of mental illness in the US, affecting an estimated 40 million people. Among the possible causes are environmental stressors, such as difficulties at work, relationship problems, family issues, and worries about a medical condition. Unfortunately, however, only 36.9% of people with a disorder receive treatment.

Depression basics

Depression is a mood disorder that includes feelings of sadness, loss, hopelessness, anger, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Depending on its severity, it may interfere with your daily work, influence relationships, and cause or exacerbate some chronic health conditions.

Like anxiety, depression is a common disorder, with the CDC estimating that 8.1% of American adults 20 and over had depression in any given two-week period from 2013-2016.

The US Census Household Pulse Survey report

The Household Pulse Survey is an experimental data system begun in April 2020 to generate weekly data on the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on US households. We should note that the Pulse Survey is not a health survey. Instead, it addresses changes in finances, employment, health, and education due specifically to the novel coronavirus.

According to the data, almost one-third of Americans currently show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, an alarming sign of the psychological toll exacted by the pandemic. When presented with questions normally used to screen patients for mental health issues, 24% of respondents showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), while 30% showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

By comparison, during January-June 2019, 8.2% of adults 18 and older showed symptoms of anxiety disorder, while just 6.6% had symptoms of depressive disorder.

The report in context

The fact that both depression and anxiety are on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic is not surprising given what the nation — and the world — is going through. We don’t know what the future will bring. We’re constantly worried about masking, social distancing, and hand washing to decrease our chances of getting the disease, yet we still see tens of thousands of people around us get sick and possibly die.

Our children haven’t been able to return to the classroom, placing an added burden on parents who need to learn remote learning platforms and ensure their children are doing their work. And a large percentage of the population, most of them lower-income and of color, has been either furloughed or lost their jobs — and their income — completely.

At the same time, the US mental health system has been vastly underfunded and difficult for those in greatest need to access, and now just a fraction of the trillion-dollar government relief package is earmarked for mental health. Therapists, too, are struggling to adapt their practices to an online format and reach the groups most vulnerable, despite licensing restrictions and low reimbursement rates.

How we can help

Bowman Medical Group is committed to helping our patients weather the mental health storm sweeping over us. We offer both in-person and telehealth visits, the latter of which can be done from the comfort of your home without worrying about virus exposure. We can provide psychotherapy, group, family, or couples therapy with this model, and we can even prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, if you need them.

We also continue to provide in-person therapies for treatment-resistant individuals, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), esketamine therapy, and Spravato™.

If you’re literally in a panic or down-in-the-dumps about our current health situation, you’re not alone, and we can help. Give our office a call at 310-982-7003, or schedule an appointment online with us today.

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