On 5 May, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an opinion piece authored by four U.K. experts in public mental health that proved very prescient: 
“As many countries around the world are facing the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in their populations, discussions focus on flattening the curve to mitigate the impact on physically vulnerable populations and fragile health systems, in anticipation of an effective vaccine. However, the mental health impact of the pandemic is likely to last much longer than the physical health impact.
And now, after close to a year of forced lockdowns by political leaders in countries around the world, they are warning that ‘excessive and protracted feelings of stress and powerlessness may have a significant impact on individuals’ mental health.’”
On 28 October, the BBC published an article quoting Dr. Steven Taylor, professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia: “For an unfortunate number of people, perhaps 10 to 15 percent, life will not return to normal as a result not of getting infected from the coronavirus, but from the emotional stress around fear over it.”
Dr. Taylor had previously published on 5 July results of a study he co-authored, in which he wrote: 
“Our findings suggest that the psychological footprint of COVID19 is likely to be more substantial than the medical footprint. That is, at the time of conducting this study the number of people emotionally affected by COVID19 far exceeded the number of people who had been infected.
Only 2% reported that they had been diagnosed with COVID19, and only 6% were personally acquainted with someone who had COVID19. And yet… 16% were highly distressed and likely in need of mental health services.”
Germaphobia: The New Normal 
While reported previously in the Trends Journal that the isolation and pervasive job loss from extended lockdowns have led to major issues of poverty, depression, food bingeing, and even suicide, Dr. Taylor points out another major increased health concern: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):  
“For people with a genetic predisposition toward some forms of OCD (i.e. contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions), the stress of Covid-19 is likely to trigger or worsen OCD. Some of these people will become chronic germaphobes unless they receive appropriate mental health treatment.” 
This is confirmed by a 2 September report in The New York Times quoting clinical psychologist Eric Storch, who specializes in OCD at the Baylor College of Medicine. He says calls to the University’s OCD program have increased by 25 percent since March.
Some doctors have been warning of excessive OCD/germophobic behavior caused by mask-wearing mandates and constant reminders to wash hands frequently. On 15 June, Dr. David Rosenberg, Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State University in Detroit, published the article, “Are we all OCD now? Coronavirus fears blur the line between obsessive-compulsive and safety amid a dangerous pandemic.”
Dr. Rosenberg wrote that obsessive fears of germs and viruses, typically seen as a mental disorder, are now considered normal and even promoted as an important health practice. Dr. Rosenberg said,
This new normal in the face of a deadly pandemic has permeated our culture and will continue to influence it. Many stores now prominently post rules mandating face masks and hand sanitizer use and limit the number of customers allowed inside at one time. Walkers and joggers politely cross the street to avoid proximity to each other.
Years ago, a patient with severe OCD came to my office wearing gloves and a mask and refused to sit on any of the ‘contaminated’ chairs. Now, these same behaviors are accepted and even encouraged to keep everyone healthy.”
Stress Levels Bubbling Over
On 20 October, the American Psychological Association (APA) published the results of its extensive survey on the emotional cost of COVID restrictions. The conclusion: “Stress from COVID-19… is seriously threatening the mental health of our country, particularly our youngest generation.” The age group most affected is Generation Z (born between the mid-1990s and 2010). 
It should be noted that among this age group, the COVID death rate is minuscule, since, according to the CDC, 99.997 percent of 1- to-20-year-olds recover from the virus.
The APA’s chief executive, Dr. Arthur C. Evans, commented,
“This compounding stress will have serious health and social consequences if we don’t act now to reduce it. We’re already seeing this with some of the youngest members of our nation, who just seven months into this crisis are beginning to show signs of serious mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.”
Dr. Emma Adam, Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University said, 
“Loneliness and uncertainty about the future are major stressors for adolescents and young adults, who are striving to find their places in the world, both socially, and in terms of education and work. The pandemic and its economic consequences are upending youths’ social lives and their visions for their futures.”
The survey also indicates most Americans are not getting the mental health support they need. “The majority of adults (61%) say they could have used more emotional support than they received over the prior 12 months, with more than eight in ten Gen Z adults (82%) saying the same.”
TRENDPOST: Despite growing evidence of the emotional fear and anxiety caused by continued lockdowns and isolation, the mainstream media continues to pump out overly dramatic headlines to stoke those fears. Some examples: 
Cuomo Fears “Nightmare of Overwhelmed Hospitals” as Virus Cases Spike — New York Times, 30 November
Fears of coronavirus jump intensify in Thanksgiving’s aftermath — Washington Post, 28 November
“The U.S. COVID-19 Outbreak Is Worse Than It’s Ever Been. Why Aren’t We Acting Like it?” — Time, 19 November
The Time magazine article went on to state, “The U.S. is now locked in a deadly cycle of setting, then shattering, records for new cases and hospitalizations.” 
It leaves out the clear data from studies, such as one published by the Journal of Hospital Medicine in August, showing COVID fatality rates in hospitals have dropped about 20 percent in all age groups. A data scientist at the Alan Turing Institute in the U.K., Bilal Mateen, studied 21,000 hospitalized cases in England, which confirmed the drop in fatality rates: “I would classify this as a silver lining to what has been quite a hard time for many people.” 

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