The psychological impact of the coronavirus outbreak is worse for women than men, research by market research company Esprimi and Richmond Foundation shows, although almost half of those participating in the study admit they are feeling depressed “most of the time”.

The mental health organisation carried out the study among 1,064 individuals to try and put under the spotlight the impact the novel virus could be having on people as they adapt to living their daily lives during a global pandemic.

Almost half the respondents, 47 per cent, said they were feeling depressed most of the time and 48 per cent of them often experienced a sense of apathy.

Women, it emerged in the study, were more likely to have such feelings, with a fourth of the female respondents saying they felt depressed all the time.

Only 12.6 per cent of their male counterparts said they felt this way.

The study also revealed that those aged between 25 and 34 were feeling depressed more often than the older generations. Most of those who continuously felt depressed – 35.8 per cent – said their job was to take care of the family.

Only seven per cent of those who took part in the study said they were “happy all the time”.

While it is usually the elderly who are associated with feeling lonely, the study revealed this is not always the case and loneliness was actually more prevalent among the younger participants – those aged between 16 and 24. A fifth of these young people said they were feeling lonely as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On the other hand, the majority of those over 55 said they “rarely” felt lonely.

The uncertainty brought about by a global pandemic could also give rise to another daunting feeling – fear.

Those over 55 say they rarely feel lonely

According to the study, close to 30 per cent of those aged between 35 and 44 were experiencing fear all the time. Those slightly younger, aged between 25 and 34, were also fearful, with a quarter saying they were constantly feeling this way.

Respondents’ jobs also seemed to have an impact, with those working in public safety and national security being the most fearful, followed by those working in utilities, financial services and communication.

Despite being the frontliners in the fight against coronavirus, only 17.7 per cent of those working in healthcare said they felt constant fear.

Those who work in the education sector were least likely to be afraid. Schools were among the first to be shut down as part of efforts by the government to contain the outbreak. Students and teachers will not be returning to school any time soon, with classes expected to resume in September.

Education attainment also seems to play a part in the level of fear one experiences, with those with only primary education most likely to have experienced fear.

And, once again, women were more likely than men to experience fear. While over 31 per cent of the female respondents said they were fearful all the time, the number dwindled to less than half – 12.1 per cent – among men.

The fact that women seemed to be struggling more than men could explain why male respondents’ sleeping patterns did not seem to be as disrupted as much during the outbreak. Almost half of the male respondents – over 43 per cent – said they rarely had any problems with sleeping. Women, however, were finding it more difficult to get some rest, with over 22 per cent of respondents admitting they were constantly restless while sleeping.

A total of 26 per cent said they felt there was no one they could share their worries and fears with, though nine out of 10 said they had someone to call if there was a crisis.

Despite being most at risk of getting coronavirus and being on quasi-lockdown, it seems the elderly are handling the situation better.

According to the study, over a fifth of those over 65 said they felt hopeful about the future all the time. This contrasts with just over 11 per cent of those in the 16 to 24 age group feeling that way.

And almost 30 per cent of the respondents said they were still sticking to a routine every day - getting up in the morning, taking a shower and getting dressed as though they were going out.

On the measures in place to tackle the outbreak, over 71 per cent of respondents said they felt the current measures were “adequate”. Their biggest concern is the well-being of their loved ones who are not in the same household, with the majority saying that being away from loved ones was the most challenging aspect.

Almost 60 per cent of the respondents in the study believe it will be three months or more before they can resume their normal lives.

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