NEWS Coronavirus News CDC Says 40% of Adults Struggling With Mental Health During COVID-19 By Elizabeth Millard Elizabeth Millard LinkedIn Elizabeth Millard is a freelance journalist specializing in health, wellness, fitness, and nutrition. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 31, 2020 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Andrea Rice Fact checked by Andrea Rice Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Andrea Rice is an award-winning journalist and a freelance writer, editor, and fact-checker specializing in health and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Share Tweet Email Print Key Takeaways The latest data released by the CDC shows significant increases in mental health issues as the pandemic continues.This adds to similar research showing there's a growing prevalence of anxiety and mental distress, even among those who've never had these issues before.Focusing on what you can control can help, especially staying socially connected and establishing solid routines. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant increases in mental health conditions and substance use, with 40% of adults struggling in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts fear that prolonged stress and ongoing uncertainty may have lasting consequences for our mental health. "The brain loves certainty, familiarity, routines, plans, and habits. When those are missing, it can be very challenging. When they're missing for months, and potentially long into the future, then it gets even more problematic, " says Paul Nestadt, MD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. CDC Statistics Showing stats from late June based on a survey of U.S. adults, the report found a prevalence of: Anxiety/depression symptoms: 31%Trauma/stressor-related disorder symptoms: 26%Started or increased substance use: 13%Seriously considered suicide: 11% The CDC data is not the only research to indicate a widespread increase in mental health issues, particularly anxiety. Recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation released the results of a poll showing that 53% of respondents believe COVID-19 is taking a toll on their mental health, an increase of 14% since May. The Burden of No Endpoint At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people found ways to cope because there seemed to be a light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. But as it continued to drag on and on, the lack of a potential endpoint became kindling for burnout, according to Nestadt. Recently, the phrase "pandemic fatigue" has been cropping up more often, and Nestadt anticipates that as summer turns to fall, it could deepen. "It's the not knowing that will continue to drive anxiety," he says. "Even when told that COVID-19 might stretch through the end of the year and beyond, with some experts saying to prepare for this as the new normal for potentially a few years, I think most of us could only see a few months ahead," Nestadt says. Paul Nestadt, MD Psychologically, humans can be much more resilient knowing when a challenging time will end, because they can aim toward that endpoint. This pandemic doesn't have one, and that's a big problem. — Paul Nestadt, MD Will we eventually adjust to this as the new normal? We don't know yet. Will anxiety and depression continue its upward trajectory, especially in a fearsome political climate? We don't know. What impact will all of this have long term when it comes to every aspect of our society, from public health to business operations to family relationships? At this point, it's anyone's guess. Perception of Time Has Shifted During COVID-19, New Survey Reports Same Pandemic, Different Experiences Compounding the issue of mental health right now is that not everyone is dealing with the same level of difficulties. A recent survey conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health cited financial instability as a key driver of pandemic-related anxiety in the U.S. Researchers found that household incomes of less than $35,000 per year were associated with increased levels of mental distress, compared to households with higher incomes. "This isn't surprising, because those in lower income brackets often have someone in the household who may have been subject to a pay cut or became unemployed as a result of COVID," said Elizabeth Stuart, PhD, associate dean for education at the Bloomberg School, during the August 27 press briefing about the results of the survey. In the recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, 40% of respondents said they had difficulty paying for necessities in the last three months, including health insurance coverage, medical bills, food, and utilities. Of those, over half said it was because coronavirus had an impact on their financial situation. That report also noted that certain groups, including Hispanic and Black adults, were more likely to have adverse health effects related to worry or stress related to the coronavirus. Strategies to Try As the pandemic continues, Stuart said that public health efforts and outreach will be crucial, along with increasing access to mental health resources. That will be especially important for those facing financial difficulties and who are unemployed, since they might not be able to afford to access mental health services. Elizabeth Stuart, PhD We need to continue collecting data that shows us who is most at risk. From there, it's vital to allocate resources based on those risk levels. — Elizabeth Stuart, PhD For individuals, there are short-term strategies that may alleviate at least some anxiety symptoms, according to Alyza Berman, LCSW, founder and clinical director of The Berman Center, a mental health treatment center in Atlanta. Those include: Staying connected socially to friends and familyFocusing on healthy habits, particularly exercise, sleep, and healthy eatingCreating structure if you work from home by having a "sign-on" and "sign-off" time for workTaking frequent breaksModerating alcohol consumption Also, Berman adds, consider using mental health resources like a therapist if you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or simply like doing a check-in with a mental health professional. What This Means for You Living through a pandemic is no easy task and there is no shame in asking for help. If you find yourself experiencing emotional and mental health challenges or signs of anxiety and/or depression, talk with your primary care physician for appropriate mental healthcare referrals. You may be able to do telehealth sessions with a therapist or counselor, even as a new patient. If you're having any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, help is available 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. How COVID-19 May Be Destigmatizing Mental Health Issues in America The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page. 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Czeisler MÉ , Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69:1049–1057. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6932a1 Hamel L, Kearney A, Kirzinger A, Lopes L, Muñana C, Brodie M. Coronavirus: Reopening, schools, and the government response. The Kaiser Family Foundation. July 27, 2020. Abedi V, Olulana O, Avula V, et al. Racial, economic and health inequality and COVID-19 infection in the United States. Public and Global Health. 2020. doi:10.1101/2020.04.26.20079756 McGinty EE, Presskreischer R, Han H, Barry CL. Psychological distress and loneliness reported by US adults in 2018 and April 2020. JAMA. 2020;324(1):93–94. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.9740 Moreno C, Wykes T, Galderisi S, et al. How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Psychiatry. 2020;7(9):813-824. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30307-2 Ng QX, Chee KT, De deyn MLZQ, Chua Z. Staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2020;66(5):519-520. doi:10.1177/0020764020926562 Graham MM, Higginson L, Brindley PG, Jetly R. Feel better, work better: the COVID-19 perspective. Can J Cardiol. 2020;36(6):789-791. doi:10.1016/j.cjca.2020.04.012 Satre DD, Hirschtritt ME, Silverberg MJ, Sterling SA. Addressing problems with alcohol and other substances among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020;28(7):780-783. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2020.04.012 Whaibeh E, Mahmoud H, Naal H. Telemental health in the context of a pandemic: the COVID-19 experience. Curr Treat Options Psychiatry. 2020:1-5. doi:10.1007/s40501-020-00210-2 By Elizabeth Millard Elizabeth Millard is a freelance journalist specializing in health, wellness, fitness, and nutrition. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.