Millions of Americans are being affected by the psychological issues from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath, and large numbers may suffer from emotional distress and be at elevated risk of developing psychiatric problems such as despair and anxiety, according to a new article printed this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The article, co-authored by Carol North, M.D., a UT Southwestern crisis psychiatrist who has studied survivors of disasters along such as Hurricane Katrina, calls on already stretched health care providers to monitor the psychosocial wants of their sufferers in addition to themselves and fellow health care employees during this time.
Shortages of resources needed to deal with sufferers, uncertain prognoses, and public health measures comparable to shelter-in-place orders—along with the ensuing financial upheaval—are among the “main stressors that will contribute to widespread depression and increased risk for psychiatric illness related to COVID-19,” the article says.
Certain groups will be extra highly affected, based on the paper. That includes people who contract the disease, these at heightened threat, along with the elderly and other people living with underlying health conditions.
Health care providers are vulnerable to emotional distress through the pandemic, the paper continues, given their risk of exposure amid shortages of personal protective tools, long work hours, and involvement in the “emotionally and ethically fraught” must allocate scarce sources when treating patients.