Anxiety, Depression and Drinking During a Pandemic

MONDAY January 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) – People with anxiety and depression are more likely to increase their alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic than those without these mental health issues, a revealed an online survey.

Alcohol use increased the most among young people, but older adults with anxiety and depression were about twice as likely to report increased alcohol use than older adults without these difficulties, said researchers from New York University.

“We expected young people and people with mental health issues to report drinking as a coping mechanism, but this is the first time we’ve learned that mental health is associated with differences in drug use. alcohol by age, ”study author Yesim Tozan said in a college press release. She is an Assistant Professor of Global Health at NYU’s School of Global Public Health.

Lead author Ariadna Capasso, doctoral student, said the increase in alcohol consumption, especially among people with mental health issues, is consistent with concerns that the pandemic could trigger an epidemic of alcohol consumption.

Drinking to cope with stress and traumatic events is not unusual. After the 2001 World Trade Center attack, 25% of New Yorkers increased their alcohol consumption.

Likewise, COVID-19 has caused a lot of stress, including isolation, disruption of routines, economic hardship, illness, fear of contagion.

For the study, researchers conducted an online survey of people across the United States in March and April.

Of the more than 5,800 respondents who reported drinking, 29% said they drank more during the pandemic. Almost 20% said they drank less and 51% said their drinking habits had not changed.

The survey found that people with depression were 64% more likely to drink more and people with anxiety were 41% more likely to do so.

Results varied by age: Respondents under 40 were the most likely to report drinking more (40%), compared to 40 to 59 (30%) and those over 60 (20%) .

The researchers said they are supporting the increase in mental health services during the pandemic through telehealth. They also suggested actively reaching out to people with mental health issues.

“The lessons we have learned from previous disasters show us that early intervention in unhealthy substance use is essential and could help reduce the impact of the pandemic on mental health,” said the author. Principal Ralph DiClemente, Chairman of NYU’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The results were recently published online in the journal Preventive medicinee.

More information

To learn more about managing stress and the pandemic, visit the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: New York University, press release, January 18, 2021

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