New results from an ongoing USC study show a COVID-19 vaccination can bring stress relief as well as protection from the virus.
The latest Understanding Coronavirus in America Study reveals that those who received a COVID-19 vaccine when the shots were first made available experienced reduced anxiety after just one dose.
While the vaccine’s expected physical benefits — including protection from infection, life-threatening symptoms and hospitalization — are obvious, the resulting mental health benefits have received less consideration.
Researchers from the Center for Economic and Social Research at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences previously looked at the mental health effects of the pandemic. When beginning this study, they hypothesized that mental distress would decrease among those vaccinated against COVID-19.
The results appeared recently in the journal PLOS ONE. They represent the latest findings in the study tracking the well-being of about 8,000 adult residents of the United States during the pandemic, with results from March 2020 through March 2021. Vaccinated people were more likely to experience a reduction in mental distress, according to the study.
The study compared changes in mental health of people vaccinated for COVID-19 and people who were unvaccinated. Researchers started tracking participants’ mental health before vaccines were made available to set a baseline and then looked for changes after vaccines were available.
To measure depression and anxiety levels, the researchers asked study participants a standard series of four questions known as the Patient Health Questionnaire-4, or PHQ-4. Two questions measure depressive symptoms and two questions measure anxiety symptoms.