U-M study shows many of us are struggling to cope with COVID-19 fear, isolation

The coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders is affecting us financially, emotionally and psychologically. So how are you coping? 

"The pandemic is having an effect on yearly every American in so many different ways," said Professor Shawna J. Lee. "It's been a tough time for all of us." 

Millions of Americans are facing unemployment and economic insecurity. Now, combine that with social isolation.
"The Combination of those two things is probably what's contributing to these really high levels of anxiety depression," said Lee, a professor with University of Michigan's School of Social Work.

The University of Michigan launched a two-week study March 24th asking 562 adults across the country how they're coping with COVID-19. The questions were about anxiety, depression, relationships and parenting.

"(The results) really tells us there's something to worry about," Lee said.

According to the study, 28 percent - or more than one in four adults say, they have used drugs or alcohol to feel better.  About 22 percent drank more - and one in seven using more marijuana since the pandemic began - and that's not all.

"People were having trouble falling asleep, feeling anxious, on edge, worrying too much and having trouble relaxing," Lee said.
The study says 32 percent of participants had symptoms that indicate major depression - in just a two-week period. And over 50 percent of those surveyed reported symptoms of serious anxiety every day or several days a week since the pandemic.  Folks felt an overwhelming sense of uncertainty.

"The not knowing what the future holds and when the lockdown is going to end," Lee said.
So many different challenges are coming at the same time. Lee says that social distancing does not have to be total isolation.
"I hope people will reach out to their social networks and ask for support," she said. "Mental health counselors are still providing services."

While most are feeling anxious and depressed - and many are turning to alcohol or drugs - Lee says - many are coping by staying busy, accepting the situation and taking action to make it better.
"Over time we're going to have to adapt our coping strategies and hopefully develop new and productive ones," she said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your family and friends.