WASHINGTON — New research led by investigators at the Saint James School of Medicine has found that an increase in screen time among young adults during the Covid-19 pandemic can be correlated with a rise in pandemic-related distress.
The findings of the study were discussed at the World Microbe Forum meeting. The increase in time spent viewing entertainment on a screen before and during the pandemic was associated with a boost in anxiety scores.
Students scored higher than non-students in pandemic-related distress. Surprisingly, the results showed no association of depression with screen time use, despite such associations found in previous research.
The research was presented at the World Microbe Forum, taking place online from June 20-24.
“This study highlights that the pandemic did not simply affect people physically, but emotionally and mentally, with various groups being impacted to a greater extent than others,” said Michelle Wiciak, the presenting author on the research, M.D. candidate at Saint James School of Medicine.
“It reiterates that there is an increased need for mental health support during disastrous times.”
Nearly half of the participants exhibited mild to moderate depression, with more than 70 percent ranging from mild to severe depression.
Seventy percent of participants experienced mild to severe anxiety, and slightly more than 30 percent could potentially meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
People with PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder have powerful, unsettling thoughts and sensations about the traumatic incident that continue long after it has occurred.
They may have flashbacks or dreams about the experience, and they may feel sad, fearful, or angry, as well as detached or estranged from others. Persons with PTSD may avoid circumstances or people who remind them of the traumatic experience.
They may have intense, unpleasant reactions to seemingly innocuous things like loud noises or unintentional touches.
Two hundred and ninety-four responses were collected and validated based on the inclusion/exclusion criteria used in the surveys. Participants ranged from 18 to 28 years old.
Screen time use was not different between genders. Still, there were gender differences in average scores in depression, anxiety, and distress from Covid-19.
“The study is unique in having evaluated mental health status as a function of screen time,” said Wiciak. The authors also collected data from multiple countries.
“Since the pandemic shifted work and education to online, we wanted to gain more insight into that transition’s impact. We did find unexpected results, potentially paving the way for future research and various protective factors, which can be vital in keeping a person healthy during tumultuous times.”
(With inputs from ANI)
(Edited by Anindita Ghosh and Ojaswin Kathuria)
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