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Publication Detail
Does thinking make it so? Differential associations between adversity worries and experiences and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abstract
BACKGROUND: There is evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic is having adverse effects on mental health. It is vital to understand what is causing this: worries over potential adversities due to the pandemic, or the toll of experiencing adverse events. METHODS: We used panel data from 41‚ÄČ909 UK adults in the COVID-19 Social Study assessed weekly from 1 April 2020 to 12 May 2020 to study the association between adversities and anxiety and depressive symptoms. We studied six categories of adversity including both worries and experiences of: illness with COVID-19, financial difficulty, loss of paid work, difficulties acquiring medication, difficulties accessing food, and threats to personal safety. Anxiety and depression were measured using the 7-item Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment and the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire. We used fixed-effect regression models to account for time-invariant confounders. RESULTS: Cumulative number of worries and experience of adversities were both related to higher levels of anxiety and depression. A number of worries were associated more with anxiety than depression, but number of experiences were equally related to anxiety and depression. There were clear associations between specific worries and poorer mental health. There was weak evidence that individuals of lower socio-economic position were more negatively affected psychologically by the adverse experiences. CONCLUSION: Measures over the first few weeks of lockdown in the UK appear to have been insufficient at reassuring people given that we see clear associations with mental health and cumulative worries. Interventions are required that seek to prevent adverse events (eg, redundancies) and reassure individuals and support adaptive coping strategies.
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Behavioural Science and Health
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Behavioural Science and Health
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IOE - Social Research Institute
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