Anxiety levels increasing during COVID-19 pandemic: Study

OTTAWA — It is called the second pandemic: the impact of mental health caused by the stresses of living through COVID-19.

Preliminary results from a study done by an Ottawa PhD student shows that anxiety is up 56 per cent during the pandemic. Hoda Seens is studying health promotion at Western University in London, Ont. She was interested in what kind of an impact living through COVID-19 has had on people.

“It’s a study on mental health during the pandemic… Some of our preliminary analysis shows that both anxiety and depression have definitely increased,” said Seens.

The study asked over 18-hundred people about their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of pressure on people’s relationships, a lot of pressure on people’s living arrangements, and of course – the financial pressures,” said Seens

Sickness, grief, finances, and juggling family and work life have a toll on all of us.

Yuan Thompson participated in the study. She is an Ottawa mother, and balances child-care, while both her and her husband work.

“We’re doing our best, like – we’re surviving, we’re definitely in survival mode.”

Thompson says the couple takes it day by day, “In terms of our stress level, our anxiety level, how to balance work with child care.”

The juggling of work and child care can be especially difficult. Stresses which Andy Tran has also heard about through a Facebook support group he runs for Ottawa dads.

“There’s guys who have lost their jobs, lost their businesses, lost their entire life saving. It’s really important for guys to check in and sound off how they’re doing – now, more than ever.”

Support that’s important. Social worker at The Royal Ottawa Ann-Marie O’Brien says it’s important to make time for yourself during the pandemic.

“Attending to what you eat, the amount of sleep you get; things within your control.”

O’Brien says to also limit the amount of alcohol or caffeine you consume, and to do the things which you enjoy, “Increased worry is really normal, a sense of anxiety; a sense of unsettledness.”

Yuan Thompson is following her own advice.

“Get through it – the next minute, next hour, like next hour, day, month; and hopefully, things will get better,” said Thompson.

The Distress Centre of Ottawa is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you need someone to talk to.

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