Depression and anxiety: Study links pandemic stresses to avoiding medical treatment

Has the pandemic made you think twice about seeking medical care?

The pandemic has brought about many different feelings as we all continue to live through one of the most unusual times in history.

Among the most common, though, have been a sense of depression and anxiety.

Unsurprisingly, those anxious feelings have kept people from their healthcare provider, deciding instead to delay or completely forego medical care.

Recently, the Journal of General Internal Medicine published a study that convincingly links and concludes that people have been avoiding care due to COVID-19-related anxiety and depression.

"It's never advisable to avoid medical care, especially potentially life-saving emergency care," said Shawna Carpenter, McLaren Lapeer Region manager of behavioral health. "But it's also important to consider the impact that mental health and well-being has in everyone's life, especially during these uncommon times."

The study concludes (after surveying 73,472 people) that 41 percent of respondents delayed non-COVID-19 medical treatment while roughly a third (32.2 percent) avoided care altogether due to feelings around the pandemic.

"If you find yourself in the position of needing care, but your anxiety and uncertainty is keeping you away from getting the care you need, don't be afraid to ask questions," Carpenter said. "Call your provider or facility, visit their website and see what extra safety precautions they've put in place to protect against the virus. Finding the answers you need and getting more information can ease your concerns."

Not coincidentally, emergency rooms across the nation have reported seeing and treating a significantly smaller number of patients than they did before the pandemic.

Carpenter continued, "Care can be provided in safe environments, so it's important to acknowledge your uncertainty and anxiety, but don't allow it to delay your treatment, which could cause a manageable health condition to become a more serious illness."


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