According to an interim study on mental health carried out by the Aga Khan University (AKU), 3 out of 4 Pakistani adults are experiencing moderate or severe stress while 1 out of 3 adults is suffering from mild or high levels of anxiety during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers at the Department of Community Health Sciences (CHS) in AKU conducted an online survey to determine whether Pakistani adults are suffering from perceived stress, generalized anxiety, or both by using validated screening tools.
The preliminary study was carried out between April and May and 373 adults participated in the online study, most of them hailing from Sindh and Punjab.
According to the study, the top 3 causes that have resulted in high levels of stress and anxiety in Pakistani adults are the fear of catching the virus, financial losses during the lockdown, and losing a family member to COVID-19.
The participants seemed more worried about their family members contracting and dying due to COVID-19 than themselves.
8 out of 10 or 76% of the participants said that they fear for their family members while 4 out 10 or just 36% of the participants said that they fear for themselves contracting and dying from the Coronavirus.
The study also observed a strong association between exposure to rumors on social media platforms and high levels of stress and anxiety as 8 out of 10 participants suffering from stress or anxiety revealed that they check social networking sites frequently.
Prof. Sameen Siddiqi, Chairperson CHS department, has said the pandemic has exposed socio-economic vulnerabilities and engendered prevalent uncertainty in the society.
Maryam Lakhdir, a senior instructor at the CHS department, has warned that people who are already battling stress and anxiety are at an increased risk of developing depression and other mental health disorders during the pandemic.
The conclusive study will be published towards the end of August as the AKU researchers are monitoring the changes in mental health of the study participants.