The psychological fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has yet to fully show itself, but some experts have forecast a tsunami of new disorders, and news accounts have amplified that message.

The World Health Organization warned in May of ''a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months,'' wrought by anxiety and isolation.

Digital platforms such as Crisis Text Line and Talkspace regularly reported spikes in activity through the spring. And more than half of American adults said the pandemic had worsened their mental health, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But this wave of new mental problems is still well offshore., and could yet prove to be a mirage. Psychiatrists and therapists who work with people in the wake of earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters noted that surges in anxiety and helplessness were reactions that seldom become traumatic or chronic.

Surveys that ask people about their emotions are poor predictors of lasting distress, and the prevalence of severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is stable and very unlikely to have changed because of the pandemic.

Most people living with these conditions needed continuous care before the virus took hold and will still need it when outbreaks are contained.

''In most disasters, the vast majority of people do well,'' said Dr. Steven Southwick, a professor of psychiatry at Yale who has worked with survivors after numerous cataclysms, including mass shootings.

''Very few people understand how resilient they really are until faced with extraordinary circumstances. In fact, one of our first jobs in these situations is to call attention to just that.'' 

Prescription trends provide little evidence of an explosion in mental disorders in recent months. In March, at the height of the epidemic in many regions of the United States, prescriptions for anti -anxiety drugs such as -

Xanax and Kionopin were up by 15 percent over February; antidepressants were up by 14 percent, and sleeping pills by 5 percent, according to the data provided by OptumRx, the pharmacy benefit arm of UnitedHealth Group.

But those rates began to decline in early April. And the total prescriptions were 8.7 million for anxiety drugs and 27.4 million for anti-depressants - very close to their usual averages for April, according to data supplied by IQVIA, a health care analytics firm. Prescriptions for other categories of psychiatric drugs, like anti-psychosis medications, remained at average monthly levels through March and April.

''Modest transient rises in the use of antidepressant and anxiety medications allays concerns over the pandemic having driven steep increases in common mood and anxiety disorders,'' Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, said in an email.

The March bum in prescriptions for anxiety drugs in particular could partly reflect people stockpiling medications that they were already taking, or increasing their dosage, he said.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Pandemic's mental toll, continues.

The World Students Society thanks author, Benedict Carey.


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