Study: Pandemic causes depression, anxiety for 1 in 5 health care workers

Study also found many suffered from post traumatic stress disorder

10 Signs of Depression

A worldwide study of more than 97,000 health care workers found more than 1 in 5 has experienced depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our findings present a concerning outlook for health care workers, a group continually needed at the forefront of action against COVID-19, and at continued risk of associated psychological stressors,” the London researchers wrote.

Data on the prevalence of moderate depression, anxiety and PTSD was pooled across 65 studies involving 97,333 health care workers in 21 countries. The pooled prevalence of depression was 21.7%, of anxiety 22.1% and of PTSD 21.5%.

Depression is more prevalent among nurses than it is among the general population, Nikeisha Whatley-León, a licensed clinical psychotherapist who is the system director for Behavioral Health Services at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, told the AJC last year. “It’s been on the rise, and we’ve been seeing more of it,” she said. “It’s called the silent epidemic in nursing.”

Nurses are constantly exposed to sickness, death, dying and grief — plus any stressors they may have in their personal lives — which contribute to an increased likelihood of suffering from depression.

The worldwide study found care givers in the Middle East suffered the greatest, with 34.6% experiencing depression and 28.9% experiencing anxiety.

“The Middle-East experienced a high number of patients with COVID-19, and it may be that this caseload put additional strain on healthcare professionals,” Nathaniel Scherer, a research assistant at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-lead author, told CNN via email.

North American health care workers had the lowest percentage of depression and anxiety, at 18.7% and 14.8%, respectively.

Scherer told CNN to be cautious when interpreting those results, however, because only seven of the 65 studies analyzed data from the Middle East and only two from North America.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.