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Disclosures: Levin and Schwartz are employees of the APA.
March 25, 2020
2 min read

APA poll shows high anxiety among Americans during COVID-19 pandemic

Disclosures: Levin and Schwartz are employees of the APA.
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Bruce Schwartz

Nearly half of Americans are anxious about the possibility of getting COVID-19, and nearly 40% are anxious about dying or becoming seriously ill due to the virus, according to results of a national poll released today by the American Psychiatric Association.

Furthermore, a significant majority of Americans (62%) are anxious about the possibility of family and loved ones getting COVID-19.

“The stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic can and is having an effect on people’s physical and mental health,” Bruce Schwartz, MD, APA president, said in a press release. “During this time, it is important to do what we can to maintain self-care and manage the stress. I would suggest this for everyone coping at home, as well as those who are still in their workplaces by necessity, especially the health care professionals on the front lines of this pandemic.”

The APA collected these data between March 18 and 19 through an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 1,004 adults.

Results showed 36% of Americans reported that the novel coronavirus is having a serious impact on their mental health, and most (59%) felt the coronavirus is having a serious impact on their day-to-day lives. Almost half were worried about running out of food, medicine and/or supplies, 57% were concerned that the coronavirus will have a serious negative impact on their finances and 68% feared that the coronavirus will have a long-lasting impact on the economy.

Moreover, 68% of Americans felt knowledgeable about the coronavirus and preventing its spread. About 40% believed people are overreacting regarding the coronavirus, whereas a similar percentage did not feel people are overreacting and about 21% were uncertain. One-third of adults were concerned about being unable to access tests and health care if needed.

Despite high levels of anxiety resulting from the coronavirus, most people reported that they had not yet felt significant behavioral impacts. Behavioral results also showed:

  • 19% reported having trouble sleeping;
  • 8% consumed more alcohol or other drugs/substances;
  • 12% reported increased fighting with a partner or loved ones, primarily because of being stuck at home together; and
  • approximately 24% reported trouble concentrating on other things because they were focused on the coronavirus.

Results also revealed a high level of uncertainty. Approximately 20% of adults said they were neutral on many issues, such as feeling knowledgeable about the coronavirus and current guidelines, as well as the current and potential impacts of the coronavirus on their health and finances.

Saul Levin, MD
Saul Levin

“The poll highlights both the anxiety caused by the pandemic and the need for clear, consistent communications on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Saul Levin, MD, MPA, APA CEO and medical director, said in the release. “In the disruption COVID-19 is causing, everyone needs to make sure they are taking the time to take care of their own physical and mental health, [along with that of] their families, friends and work colleagues. Social isolation can be prevented by taking the time to use social media, letters or simply the phone to communicate with loved ones and friends, particularly those we haven’t been in touch with over the years as we would have liked. Together, we will get through this.”

Disclosures: Levin and Schwartz are employees of the APA.