HEALTH

New study sheds light on the negative impact of pandemic on mental health in Utah

Nov 14, 2021, 3:34 PM | Updated: Nov 15, 2021, 5:28 am
FILE PHOTO: The Intermountain Healthcare Kem C. Gardner Transformation Center in Murray is pictured...
FILE PHOTO: The Intermountain Healthcare Kem C. Gardner Transformation Center in Murray is pictured on Friday, July 2, 2021. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

UTAH — A new study by researchers at Intermountain healthcare confirms the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of the country.

4,633 patients participated in the study, which claims the pandemic’s negative impact on people’s mental health and physical well-being has been significant.

In the study, nearly 40 percent of patients reported new or continuing symptoms of depression during the first year of the pandemic.

Researchers also looked at the connection between depression, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic health problems. They shared their findings with the American Heart Association.

Patients were separated into two groups: those with no depression/no longer depressed, and those who remained depressed/became depressed. Follow-up appointments were used to assess the patient’s anxiety and chest pain.

In the findings, depression screening scores were higher during the pandemic than before, and it was associated with increased emergency department visits for anxiety. The odds of visiting an emergency room for anxiety were 2.8 greater for people with depression than those without, and 1.8 greater for anxiety with chest pains.

“Clinicians should be acutely aware of their patients’ mental health so that it can be addressed and treated immediately to improve the overall quality of their lives, and hopefully avoid the development of subsequent health problems in the future. This is vital because the pandemic is still not over,” – Dr. Heidi T. May

Dr. May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute and the principal investigator of the study said a longer follow-up is needed to determine the potential long-term effects of the pandemic on mental health.

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