Vaccines assist cut back COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization, however they might have necessary secondary advantages
Vaccination against COVID-19 helps protect millions of people from the coronavirus while reducing their risk of developing serious illness from the disease. But new research says it may also help ease the scourge of anxiety and depression.
“While vaccines are primarily aimed at reducing COVID-19 transmission and the risk of death, they can have important secondary benefits,” says a new paper from the University of Southern California and RAND Corp.
The scientists used data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and compared those numbers with federal-level COVID-19 vaccination eligibility data to estimate the secondary mental health benefits of vaccination.
“We estimate the COVID-19 vaccination reduces anxiety and depression symptoms by nearly 30%,” they concluded. Fear of testing positive among frontline workers and social isolation has taken an emotional toll on millions of people.
The researchers found greater reductions in symptoms of anxiety or depression among those with a lower level of education who rent their homes, who cannot work remotely, and who have children in the household.
“Almost all of the benefits are private, and we find little evidence of spillover effects;
Almost a third of US adults said they had symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to a survey by the US Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics of 50,849 US adults in September and October.
““Some fear the deterioration in mental health could continue long after the pandemic has subsided.””
The economic benefits of reducing anxiety and depression could be billions of dollars by lowering healthcare costs and restoring lost work hours, public health experts say.
The World Health Organization says depression and anxiety cost the world economy $ 1 trillion in lost productivity each year, driving companies to improve their mental health support services for workers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with depression miss an average of 4.8 work days and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity over a three-month period.
“Researchers around the world are studying the causes and effects of this stress, and some fear that the deterioration in mental health may continue long after the pandemic has subsided,” said a comment in the journal Nature.
“Scientists hope they can use the mountains of data gathered in mental health studies to link the effects of certain control measures to changes in people’s well-being and to inform management of future pandemics,” it said.
Younger people, especially young women and people with young children, are most susceptible to increased psychological distress due to the pandemic, “perhaps because their need for social interaction is stronger,” the article added.
Related: Corporations expanded access to mental health services during the pandemic