A recent study conducted by academics at Bangor University in the UK has revealed a surprising correlation between strict adherence to Covid-19 lockdown rules and deteriorating mental health. Individuals who conscientiously followed pandemic restrictions, particularly during the initial lockdown in March to September 2020, were found to be more likely to experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression in the post-lockdown period.

According to The Guardian, the research identified a connection between adherence to lockdown protocols and personality types. Those with “communal” personalities, characterized by care, sensitivity, and awareness of others’ needs, were the most committed to following recommended guidelines. On the contrary, individuals with “agentic” personalities, known for independence, competitiveness, and a desire for control, were less likely to exhibit strict adherence.

Dr. Marley Willegers and colleagues concluded that the more individuals complied with health advice during lockdown, the worse their well-being was post-lockdown. Interestingly, the fear of contracting Covid-19 proved to have both positive and negative effects. While it effectively drove compliance, it also had adverse consequences on individuals’ mental well-being and recovery.

The study, based on the experiences of 1,729 people in Wales, found that “communal” personalities displayed the highest levels of ongoing disturbance to mental well-being. In contrast, “agentic” individuals demonstrated better resilience in bouncing back from lockdown-related challenges.

Willegers highlighted the challenge some faced in the transitioning from a period of constant messaging about following public health advice during the pandemic to a lack of guidance as lockdowns ended. He emphasized the need for targeted messaging campaigns during this transition to help individuals safely return to normality.

The News Medical informs that the enduringly poor mental health experienced by those who diligently adhered to the rules is concerning, according to the Center for Mental Health thinktank. The fear, loss, and trauma caused by the pandemic, coupled with the impact of seeing others not complying with restrictions, contributed to lasting mental health effects.

Experts suggest that the widespread damage to mental health caused by Covid-19 is a primary reason for the surge in demand for NHS psychological and psychiatric services. Future government health campaigns, aiming to influence behavior, should consider the diverse personality types in the population, emphasizing both personal costs and benefits, Willegers added.

IAEA Imagebank, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Martin

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