COVID-19’s Psychological Toll: Mental Distress Among Americans Has Tripled During the Pandemic Compared to 2018

May 7, 2020
By Markham Heid

Late last month, as the full weight of the COVID-19 crises was settling on the country’s shoulders, more than one in four American adults met the criteria that psychologists use to diagnose serious mental distress and illness. That represents a roughly 700% increase from pre-pandemic data collected in 2018.

While this surge in mental distress showed up across age and demographic groups, young adults and those with children experienced the most pronounced spikes. Among adults living at home with kids under the age of 18, the rate of severe distress rose from just 3% in 2018 to 37% last month.

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