19 Aug A Review of 1,000 Studies Shows You’re Probably Stronger Than You Think You Are
via Inc.com by Jessica Stillman
If you can bear it, think back to the early days of the pandemic and recall the many articles warning that lockdowns, isolation, and stress would have a disastrous effect on our collective mental health. At the time, experts predicted big spikes in anxiety, depression, and even suicide.
We’re now nearly 18 months in and, in America at least, rounding the corner on the worst of the pandemic. Did all those dire predictions come to pass? An in-depth new review of the science on the subject, summed up recently by its authors in the Atlantic, offers a hopeful answer.
A happy surprise hiding in a mountain of data.
Before we get started on digging into these findings, it’s important to be crystal clear that Covid caused immeasurable suffering for many. Many people lost loved ones or their livelihoods. Others faced the crisis with existing mental health challenges or burdened by horrible inequities. Their distress was very real.
It’s also worth noting that lots of us also struggled with milder but still deeply unpleasant mental health consequences. Experts say “covid brain” is an actual biological phenomenon caused by our brain’s response to stress. So if the pandemic left you feeling sapped, foggy, listless, and just generally not your best self, this science very much is not denying your experience (for what it’s worth, it’s been mine too).
But did the pandemic cause a huge spike in the rate of clinical psychological issues like depression or, in the worst case, suicide? According to Lara Aknin, Jamil Zaki, and Elizabeth Dunn, a trio of psychology professors who recently reviewed close to 1,000 studies on mental health and the pandemic for top journal The Lancet, the answer is no.
Early in the pandemic, anxiety and depression did rise, according to data from 100 countries they looked at, but “as spring turned to summer, something remarkable happened: Average levels of depression, anxiety, and distress began to fall. Some data sets even suggested that overall psychological distress returned to near-pre-pandemic levels by early summer 2020,” the psychologists report.
Initially skeptical of these findings themselves, the experts sliced and diced the data as many ways as they could think of and searched out only the highest quality studies. But however they looked at the numbers, they ended up telling the same story: On average we shook off the mental health hit from the worst pandemic in a hundred years within a few months. Suicides in 2020 were actually down slightly compared to previous years…
… keep reading the full & original article HERE