CLEVELAND, Ohio — According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States April through June this year, compared to the same period in 2019.
Dr. Tatiana Falcone, of the Cleveland Clinic, points to stress brought on by the coronavirus.
“The reflection that we're seeing on the numbers is that pressure, that people are definitely getting to deal with a lot of multiple things at the same time.” Falcone said.
The study, which surveyed more than five thousand adults over the age of 18 during the last week of June 2020, shows three times as many people, compared to last year, had symptoms of an anxiety disorder. And the prevalence of a depressive disorder was approximately four times higher than in 2019.
“Patients with a history of depression, anxiety, and PTSD and other trauma in the past, were more likely, like almost 50 percent more likely to have more symptoms of suicide ideation and suicidal thoughts,” Falcone said.
Among respondents, younger adults, racial minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers experienced the highest incidents of mental distress.
Cleveland Clinic researchers have been collaborating with the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation to track suicide rates and consultations. Dr. Falcone says the national data mirrors what's happening on a local level.
“When patients had like a lot of like socioeconomic disadvantages, right, like one of the parents were not able to work or they lost a job or they don't have any access to unemployment, that increased the likelihood that depression gets worse. When the person gets worse, you are definitely at higher risk for suicidal thoughts," said Falcone. "When we compare how long it takes for someone who started having depressive symptoms, until they go to a hospital and just look at the difference, you know, according to their ethnicity, we can see that Hispanic patients and African American patients will take three times the amount of time to get to consult with a psychologist or the psychiatrist.”
President of The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation Tony Coder says the organization is using September— Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — to increase intervention and prevention efforts.
“We have something called the 'It's Okay To' campaign, and it is, it's okay to to feel nervous about things. It's okay to have anxiety. It's also okay to go seek help. It's okay to talk to somebody. So, you know, we have that message out there," Coder said.
Coder says during this month and beyond, everyone can play a role in suicide prevention.
“Simply by talking about it, by asking them, hey, are you doing okay? I noticed that you haven't come out of your room, or I noticed that we normally have a call every week and you haven't been calling lately. Asking those probing questions 'is everything okay?' and you know, we not only ask this from family member to family member, but also from employer to employee, and doctor to patient and teacher to student. We all can play a role in suicide prevention,” said Coder.
For more information, visit the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation website.