Researchers discover pandemic's impact on mental health, chronic health conditions beyond virus
BATON ROUGE - Researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center conducted a first-of-its-kind global survey that shows the initial phase of COVID-19 dramatically altered personal habits, largely for the worse.
Specifically in the beginning stages of the lockdown, stay-at-home orders did result in one major health positive, according to the Director of Scientific Education at Pennington Biomedical, Leanne Redman Ph.D.
"We snacked more. We got less exercise. We went to bed later and slept more poorly. Our anxiety levels doubled, Dr. Redman said.
The survey included nearly 8,000 participants and evaluated changes in everyday behaviors that took place under the pandemic's widespread restrictions. Researchers found that the lockdown's effects were magnified among people with obesity.
"Overall, people with obesity improved their diets the most. But they also experienced the sharpest declines in mental health and the highest incidence of weight gain," Dr. Redman said.
Most respondents said while ordering out and snacking increased, a healthy sleep and exercise routine decreased. Because of this, researchers say anxiety doubled during this time.
Things that we can do to try to help with our mental health during this time are to eat right, exercise more, call up our loved ones," Researcher Emily Flanagan said.
Isolation, also a contributing factor to the decline in mental health.
Researchers urge physicians to increase mental health screenings and stay connected with patients, even if appointments are held virtually.
Full results of the study are available here.
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