How health anxiety surged drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic

The study, titled Coping and Tolerance of Uncertainty: Predictors and Mediators of Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic, was conducted by the University of Bath.

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Amid the global pandemic associated with COVID-19, more people are exhibiting health anxieties, especially vulnerable groups, new research in the journal American Psychologist determined.

“The current pandemic wave of COVID-19 has resulted in significant uncertainty for the general public. Mental health and examining factors that may influence distress have been outlined as key research priorities to inform interventions,” the co-authors informed in their findings.

“This research sought to examine whether intolerance of uncertainty and coping responses influence the degree of distress experienced by the U.K. general public during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For this study, survey responses collected over a span of ten days were analyzed from 842 online participants in the United Kingdom.

In their findings, close to a quarter of all the participants had experienced abnormal anxiety and depressive symptoms as a result of the lockdown measures implemented during the pandemic. Additionally, disruption in normal day-to-day activities and subsequent isolation was commonly observed among approximately 15 percent of the participants who demonstrated clinical levels of health anxiety.

“What our research focused in on is how some individuals have struggled to tolerate and adapt to these uncertainties – much more so than in normal times,” the study’s lead author stated in the findings.

“These results have important implications as we move to help people psychologically distressed by these challenging times in the weeks, months and years ahead.”

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