Tuesday, March 26, 2024

‘COVID Changed Us More Than We Realize’: What the Pandemic Taught Us About the Costs of Loneliness; Study Sheds Light On the Gender Gap in Youth Resilience When Faced with Mental Health Struggles, and other C-Virus related stories

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
‘COVID changed us more than we realize’: What the pandemic taught us about the costs of loneliness:
The coronavirus hit amid an explosion of research into the negative consequences of social isolation.
Dori Burke and her husband have always been extroverts. When they weren’t with old friends, they made new ones. They met them in restaurants. They met them in bars. They met them in the bleachers and the box seats that run along the first base line at Fenway.
But that was before COVID-19 came raging out of China. Before, that is, the day, four years ago this week, when her boss at the South Shore YMCA Early Learning Center came into the nursery where she was fussing over the babies and told her they were going to have to shut down for a few weeks. Weeks turned to months.
By the time the world resumed, life had changed. Burke had changed, too. She still loves people and making friends, but she and her husband don’t go out like they used to. They stay home, read books, and order on Amazon. Burke hasn’t been to Fenway since 2019. The idea of being in big crowds still feels vaguely menacing. She’s noticed that she’s more anxious in general.
“For some reason, the inclination to go seems to not be quite so strong,” she said. “I’ve had this conversation with many people. I think COVID really changed us more than we realize.”
The numbers suggest some of what we lost when the shutdown began. The virus has infected humans more than 700 million times, and killed almost 7 million. In the United States alone, the economic toll, by some estimates, tops $14 trillion.
But some costs are more difficult to measure. What impact did those months of social isolation have on our mental and physical well-being?
As it happened, COVID-19 hit amid an explosion in research into the negative psychological and physical costs of loneliness. The collective trauma of the pandemic experience set the stage for what amounted to an unprecedented social experiment.
Researchers are still tallying the results. Early findings suggest the isolation exacerbated long-term trends. Social isolation, we now know, can be self-perpetuating. While the psychological effects of social isolation are well known—loneliness has been linked to higher rates of depression, suicide, anxiety, addiction, even, in some cases, violence—a growing body of research shows it can also be physically harmful, raising the risk of dying of heart disease, cancer, and a wide range of other seemingly unrelated conditions. It can also cause heighten fear and paranoia, two powerful side effects that seem to have exacerbated the country’s already divided politics.
The pandemic was an epochal event, notes Marc Schulz, associate director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of the factors that lead to happiness — and unhappiness — ever conducted. But unlike other crises in our history, people were not able to face COVID-19 communally. Even amid the horrors of war, soldiers and civilians could feel sustained by camaraderie and solidarity, something the pandemic denied many Americans.
“We experienced the pandemic together,” he said. “But we did it from the isolation of our homes.” --->READ MORE HERE
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Study sheds light on the gender gap in youth resilience when faced with mental health struggles:
From loneliness to resilience: Exploring the factors that are fueling mental health crisis
Exacerbated by the pandemic, the mental health crisis in America is growing as more and more people admit to having symptoms of anxiety and depression — and at younger ages, according to reports.
“Our nation is facing a mental health crisis among people of all ages, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made these problems worse,” a White House report said last year. “Everyone has someone in their life who is impacted by a mental health disorder or is facing such a challenge themselves.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 5 American adults live with a mental illness, and the same goes for youth. In addition to that, “About 1 in 25 U.S. adults lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression,” the CDC reported.
In Utah, “from February 1 to 13, 2023, 33.3% of adults in Utah reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder, compared to 32.3% of adults in the U.S.,” the Kaiser Family Foundation said.
Mental health affecting younger ages
Younger generations have shown they are more open to discussing their feelings and see it as a strength to do so, whereas older generations struggle with the idea, saying it would show weakness to share their struggles, per Verywell Mind.
Loneliness is a universal feeling that experts are seeing more often in Generation Z at their current age and have never seen so high in previous generations at the same age. When feelings of loneliness occur more frequently, they can do great damage to one’s mental health. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Education changes effect students post COVID-19

Study shows heart damage from COVID-19

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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