Pandemic Tougher on Mental Health For Women Than Men

WEDNESDAY, December 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) – The COVID-19 pandemic could wreak greater havoc on the mental health of women than men, new research shows.

For the study, researchers looked at the results of an online survey of 112 men and 459 women in Canada. The survey took place from March 23 to June 7, 2020.

During this time, schools and many businesses have been closed and people have been urged to stay at home as much as possible to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.

Over 66% of survey participants reported poor quality of sleep, and over 39% reported worsening insomnia. All of them said they had increased anxiety and distress.

Problems sleeping, depression and symptoms of anxiety were more common in women than in men, according to the report recently published online in the journal Frontiers of women’s health around the world.

“In general, the study found that women reported more anxiety and depression,” said study author Veronica Guadagni, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine. “Their symptoms worsened over time and with a longer period of isolation.”

Guadagni noted that there was a gradual increase in anxiety, depression, poor sleep quality, and trauma in both men and women, but it was more important for women over time.

Women also reported higher scores on a scale measuring empathy, the ability to understand and take care of other people’s emotions. But greater empathy was associated with greater anxiety, depression and trauma, the study’s authors noted in an academic press release.

“I was not surprised by the results; it is the women who bear the additional burden, ”said lead researcher Giuseppe Iaria, professor of psychology. “Caring for family and critical situations has always been a huge burden on women and women.”

Guadagni pointed out that greater empathy in women may mean they are more likely to follow public health guidelines, such as hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask.

“If we see that higher empathy is linked to prosocial behavior, we might expect people who care about others the most to be more rule-abiding. Future studies should test this specific hypothesis, ”she said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on COVID-19 and mental health.

SOURCE: University of Calgary, press release, December 22, 2020

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