Study: Young adults most mentally affected by coronavirus crisis

Electronic sign urging people to stay home.
Electronic sign urging people to stay home. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Researchers at Tallinn University (TLÜ) launched a study in the second half of April aimed at examining various aspects of Estonian residents' mental health and wellness in coronavirus pandemic conditions. The first round of the study revealed that nearly one third of respondents exhibited above-average symptoms hinting at depression.

Between April 20-May 11, a total of 1,252 adults responded to a written survey in either Estonian or Russian. A total of 30 percent of respondents exhibited above-average symptoms hinting at depression, 27 percent symptoms hinting at anxiety, 46 percent symptoms of fatigue and one third of respondents trouble sleeping. 31 percent of respondents also indicated unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption.

Above-average, in this case, means that during the month prior to responding to the survey, the respondent experienced similar amounts of symptoms to the majority of those with depression or an anxiety disorder.

"The more frequently they were involved in fitness or spent time outdoors, however, the less they exhibited symptoms indicative of depression, anxiety and fatigue," explained Aleksander Pulver, personality psychology lecturer at TLÜ's School of Natural Sciences and Health.

Pulver noted that nearly 100 study participants between the ages of 18-24 had above-average symptoms indicative of depression than other age groups. 54 percent of respondents in this age group exhibited symptoms of depression, 49 percent symptoms of anxiety, and 67 percent symptoms of fatigue.

"Increased depression in young adults can be explained by the fact that their daily routines and rhythms were turned upside down during the emergency situation, and that even following the conclusion of the emergency situation and the relaxation of restrictions, the future is unpredictable," he said.

Considering the results of the first stage of the study, researchers at TLÜ's School of Natural Sciences and Health believe that society must be prepared for an increase in mental health issues. To what extent these issues will increase, however, yet remains unclear.

According to Pulver, based on current data, it can be said that focus must first and foremost be placed on the prevention of the emergence of mental health-related issues or rapid intervention in the emergence thereof among young adults.

The second stage of the study will focus on mental health in the period following the emergency situation. The second stage survey is available on the study's homepage through June 22.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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