Vital aspects of people’s lives have been disturbed by the pandemic. This includes finances, work, and socialization. This potentially affects their mental health. In many countries of the world, as a consequence of this, there was an increase in mental distress in a lot of people.
It was shown by one study that in the US, mental distress went up in March 2020, and only in August 2020 did it return to the levels before the pandemic.
Mental Health Can Be Boosted By Receiving The Vaccine
This trend has been attributed by researchers to various factors. This includes fearing the impact of the pandemic on the economy, physical distancing measures,s and concerns about the Covid cases which keep rising.
A group of scientists, after the rollout of the Covid vaccines, embarked on a study to compare the improvements in mental health in people who received the shots and those who did not.
It was concluded by the scientists that getting the first dose of the vaccine resulted in significant improvements in mental health. They added that this improvement goes beyond what was already achieved during the peak in 2020.
Dr. Francisco Perez, the lead study collaborator said that in March of 2020, which was very early in the pandemic, a panel was started by them so that the multiple impacts of the pandemic can be tracked. This includes mental health.
Respondents from the Understanding America Study, who were their panelists were asked to answer surveys every 2 weeks. This allowed them to track trajectories in multiple variables like vaccination status and mental health.
He concluded by saying that the extent to which reducing health risks improves mental health can be studied by looking at the impact of getting vaccinated. Over 8000 adults who participated in the study were surveyed by Dr. Perez and his colleagues between March 10, 2020, and March 31, 2021.
The participants were selected from the Understanding America Study. This is a nationally representative longitudinal study of Americans who are aged 18 or older.
Mental distress levels were self-reported by the participants and questions about their Covid vaccination status were answered. After this, the researchers measured the levels using the four-item Patient Health Questionnaire.
Every two weeks, the authors measured the responses. This was done between April 2020 and February 2021. After this, the levels were measured every 4 weeks. Altogether over 150,000 respondent-wave observations were included in the data.
Using two parameters, the data was analyzed by the authors of the study. These parameters were mental distress levels and vaccination status. The distress levels were measured with the help of the PHQ-4 questionnaire. This questionnaire uses two items to measure depressive and anxiety symptoms.
Responses were graded by them to each section between 0 and 4. These were then summed up to create an index range between 0 and 16. Higher levels of mental distress corresponded with higher numbers.
The respondents, starting from December 2020 answered whether they had received their first dose of the vaccine. The scientists assigned specific values to the participants, based on the answers.
These values were used to compare the mental health trajectory of the people who, at some point, received a vaccine, to the mental health trajectory of those who did not receive the vaccine.
Until December 2020, it was found that both the groups had a similar direction. This was when the vaccine first became available. There was a noticeable difference in baseline levels of mental health after this in both groups.
It was concluded by researchers that getting the vaccine can have direct short-term effects on the mental health of the person receiving it.
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