Article sheds light on pandemic's impact on mental health

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC strategic communications | September 23, 2021

Image with caption: Siddappa Byrareddy, PhD

Siddappa Byrareddy, PhD

More than 4.69 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19 as of Sept 20, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

It’s harder to measure the toll taken on the mental health of individuals and families.

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Michellie Thurman, co-first author Kabita Pandey, DVM, co-first author

Researchers at UNMC have recently published an article in Brain Research Bulletin about how COVID has affected mental well-being.

The six-month review of medical literature, scientific publications and social media, funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, sums up COVID-19’s direct and indirect effect on the central nervous system, as well as the effect of vaccine hesitancy. 

Job loss, fear of dying, lockdowns, isolation, mask mandates, social distancing, vaccine hesitancy and closure of public places, educational institutes and workplaces. They are just a few reasons for anxiety and depression and other psychopathological symptoms such as sleep disturbance that many are experiencing during the pandemic.

"Right now, everyone is under pressure, and we wanted to help," said Siddappa Byrareddy, PhD, senior author of the paper. "In our laboratory we are conducting cutting-edge COVID-19 research, including on the discovery of anti-viral drugs and understanding the pathophysiology of the virus. We wanted to shed light on how COVID-19 impacts mental health and offer some strategies for coping to reduce mental stress on individuals."

The team found a 22% increase in domestic violence arrests and undesirable coping mechanisms, including increased alcohol and drug misuse and criminal behavior.

"Due to some enforced social isolation by lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, we saw increased domestic abuse and intimate partner violence, negatively impacting the physical and mental health of individuals," said Dr. Byrareddy, a professor and vice-chair of research in the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience.

The paper also explains how vulnerable and economically disadvantaged communities are at an increased disadvantage regarding the effects of COVID-19 on mental health.

The article offers coping strategies such as yoga and exercise, creative activities, calling loved ones, including friends, reading and writing exciting books/novels, setting small goals that can be achieved during lockdowns.

Comments
Saumi Mathews
September 23, 2021 at 9:40 AM

Congratulations

Surendra Shukla
September 23, 2021 at 8:53 AM

Congratulations Siddappa Sir!