While the world struggles to manage the initial waves of death and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is mounting evidence accumulating that “a second wave” linked to rising rates of mental health and substance use disorders could be building, according to an article published Monday in the medical journal JAMA.”A second wave of devastation is imminent, attributable to mental health consequences of COVID-19,” wrote authors Dr. Naomi Simon, Dr. Glenn Saxe and Dr. Charles Marmar, all from New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.”The magnitude of this second wave is likely to overwhelm the already frayed mental health system, leading to access problems, particularly for the most vulnerable persons.” This second mental health wave, the researchers suggested, will bring further challenges, such as increased deaths from suicide and drug overdoses, and will have a disproportionate effect on the same groups that the first wave did: Black and Hispanic … Read More
“This magnitude of death over a short period of time is an international tragedy on a historic scale,” the authors said. “This interpersonal loss is compounded by societal disruption.”
Of central concern, the authors wrote, is “the transformation of normal grief and distress into prolonged grief and major depressive disorder and symptoms of posttraumatic health disorder.”
A grief that lasts longer
Prolonged grief, which affects approximately 10% of bereaved people, is characterized by at least six months of intense longing, preoccupation or both, with the deceased; emotional pain; loneliness; difficulty reengaging in life; avoidance; feeling life is meaningless; and increased suicide risk. These conditions can also become chronic with additional comorbidities, such as substance use disorders, the authors said.
The 10% affected by prolonged grief is likely an underestimate for grief related to deaths from Covid-19, and each death leaves approximately nine family members bereaved, the authors said. This means