April 10, 2021

Seven out of ten Spaniards have lived in fear that a loved one will die from COVID-19



70% of Spaniards have been afraid that a relative or loved one will die because of the coronavirus. Within this group, 38.6% say they have felt it a lot and 30% quite a lot, but the percentage rises to 85% if it is added to those who have ever experienced this concern. This is one of the conclusions drawn from the barometer of the Sociological Research Center posted this thursday, the first focused on mental health about to turn a pandemic year. The survey was conducted between February 19 and 25, 2021.

The survey reveals that 23.4% of the population has felt a lot or quite “fear of dying due to the coronavirus”, with men representing 18.4% and women 28.3%. By age, those most concerned about mortality are people aged 55 to 64 (26.2%). The percentage, however, drops a lot between the concern for the personal consequences of the disease and those of others, since while 19% fear “a lot” to be infected, this figure rises to 39% when asked about a relative or being darling get the virus.

For their part, 20% of those surveyed have experienced sadness or depression; 16% anxiety or fear; and 25% a lot of concern without being able to do anything to control it. 35.1% admit that “they have cried due to this situation”, 16.9% of men and 52.8% of women. And by age, young people between 18 and 24 years old are those who admit that they have cried the most since the beginning of the health crisis (42.8%).

Regarding the symptoms derived from the pandemic, 52% have felt without desire or with little energy, 42% have manifested sleep problems, 39% headaches and 38% back pain, among other problems such as fast heartbeat, dizziness, or fainting spells. Furthermore, in the last year 61.2% of Spaniards feel more concerned about their health than before.

The impact on minors

Although the interview has been carried out with people over 18 years of age, a good part of the survey focuses on the mental health of minors as seen through family members or partners. 52.2% of parents who have minor children (843 of the sample) with whom they have lived in the pandemic have noticed changes in the personality of their children.

Of those who have noticed the effects on the behavior of their cohabiting children or grandchildren, 72.7% say they have suffered “mood swings”, 78.6% “changes in lifestyle” and 30.4 % “Changes in sleep”. In the specific case of mood swings, 76.4 are irritable, 60% anxious, 50% sad, 55% physically restless and another 55% are more demanding when they ask for something.

Prescription of psychotropic drugs

The Scientific Direction of this survey has been in charge of the Professor of the UNED, Bonifacio Sandín, specialized in Personality, evaluation and psychological treatments, and of the psychiatrist, psychotherapist and professor of Psychopathology of the UNED, José Luis Pedreira. The latter has highlighted “the feeling of fear of contagion and death in young adults, as well as crying several times a day” and has highlighted the increase in the prescription of psychotropic drugs (more than double those prescribed before the start of the pandemic), especially of anxiolytics, antidepressants and sleep inducers, and with a treatment duration of more than 3 months.

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