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Early COVID lockdowns not tied to worse mental health, study finds

New research from the American Psychological Association shows that state restrictions and lockdowns imposed during the first six months of the pandemic were not related to worsening mental health (Source: “Study: Early state lockdowns not tied to worse mental health,” CIDRAP News Scan, Oct. 18).

The study, published in Health Psychology, was based on data collected from a survey of more than 6,500 participants at the start of the pandemic from March 18 to April 18, 2020, and answers were compared with the same survey given to 5,600 of the same participants about 6 months later: from Sept. 26 to Oct. 16, 2020.

Though loneliness and symptoms of distress increased for participants during the first six months of the pandemic, those feelings were not related to state lockdowns, and instead were correlated with knowing someone who had the virus, and consuming pandemic-related media, researchers found.

"There were robust significant relationships between personal direct experiences with the pandemic—that is, knowing someone who got very sick or died or getting sick oneself—and increased global distress, loneliness, and traumatic stress symptoms," the authors concluded.