FRIDAY, July 30, 2021 (HealthDay News) — About 20 percent of older adults reported worsening in their mental health since the start of the pandemic, according to research published online July 27 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Lauren B. Gerlach, D.O., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues surveyed adults aged 50 to 80 years about the effects of the pandemic on their mental health. Participants were asked to compare their overall mental health, sleep, depression, and anxiety with before the pandemic.

The researchers found that most of the 2,023 respondents reported that their mental health was no worse than before the pandemic. However, 18.3, 18.7, 18.9, and 28.3 percent reported worse mental health, worse sleep, worse depression, and worse anxiety, respectively. The likelihood of reporting worse mental health was increased for women, those with a bachelor’s degree, and respondents rating their physical health as fair to poor (adjusted odds ratios, 1.75, 2.00, and 1.69, respectively). Older respondents were less likely to report worse mental health (adjusted odds ratios, 0.58). Overall, 29.0 percent of respondents made a lifestyle change to address mental health after March 2020.

“These findings show we need to continue to look for and address the mental health effects of the pandemic and connect people to treatment resources,” Gerloch said in a statement. “Poor mental health can decrease functioning, independence, and quality of life for older adults but treatment can significantly help.”

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