More than one in four adults or 28 percent said they have used alcohol or drugs to cope with stress under orders to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a University of Michigan (UM) study posted on the university’s website on Wednesday.
The study tracked behaviors a week after the World Health Organization announced the pandemic in mid-March. The sample included responses from 562 adults, both parents and nonparents.
Nearly all respondents were engaging in social distancing, but fewer were in lockdown or social isolation. When asked about worries associated with COVID-19, 47 percent indicated they worry they can’t afford to pay bills and 53 percent worry that money will run out.
About 22 percent said they are using alcohol more, and 1 in 7 said they used marijuana more since the pandemic began.
Symptoms of depression were high: 2 out of 3 reported feeling tired or having little energy, trouble sleeping and feeling hopeless. About 32 percent of respondents had symptoms that would indicate major depression.
At least 50 percent reported symptoms of anxiety nearly every day or several days a week since the pandemic. Approximately 32 percent of respondents had symptoms that would indicate mild anxiety, about 19 percent for moderate anxiety and 17 percent for severe anxiety.
In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, symptoms of depression and anxiety were much higher than would be expected in the general population. However, respondents also said they were using coping mechanisms, such as acceptance by 96 percent of respondents, taking action to make the situation better by 89 percent, and turning to work other activities to take their minds off things by 84 percent.
Among those in romantic relationships, 22 percent reported having disagreements with their partner related to COVID-19, 19 percent reported more disagreements than usual, and 15 percent reported more verbal fights than usual.
Although about 1 in 4 respondents were having more conflicts in the first two weeks after the pandemic, a majority 71 percent said they have felt emotionally closer to their partner than usual.