(MASON, Ohio) – When the COVID-19 pandemic began, no one could have predicted where we’d stand a year and a half later. But as uncertainty around health threats, mandates and work or school conditions continue, a new GeneSight Mental Health Monitor national survey finds many Americans are experiencing anxiety symptoms, but some won’t seek treatment.
The survey found more two in three respondents believe the U.S. is experiencing or will experience a second pandemic related to mental health, and nearly half rated their anxiety symptoms as moderate to severe over the past six months.
“Anxiety symptoms rob people of the life they want to live. They may be afraid to go out, unable to sleep, unable to eat, eating too much, sleeping too much,” said Dr. Robin Miller, an internist and owner of Triune Integrative Medicine in Medford, Oregon. “There are a lot of symptoms that people are experiencing that they probably should go and get help for but may not be.”
For those who haven’t sought treatment but are concerned they may be suffering from anxiety, only 36% are planning to seek treatment. When asked what it would take to get help for their anxiety, 47% said a debilitating panic attack and 34% said not being able to leave their home.
Yet, 55% of those who have been diagnosed with anxiety report suffering for years or even decades before getting help.
“You wouldn’t wait with an ear infection until you lost your hearing, so why would you wait to treat a mental health problem until you have a breakdown, you can’t leave your house or you’re having repeated panic attacks?” Dr. Miller said. “Too many get so used to their anxiety and stress that they don’t realize how horrible it is. They’re stuck in it and don’t remember what it was like to feel good.”
The survey found that some people won’t seek treatment because they want to avoid a lengthy trial-and-error process with medication, with nearly one in four citing it as a reason they would not seek medical help. The GeneSight test may help with the medication selection process by providing information about how a patient’s genes may affect their outcomes with certain psychiatric medications.
“For the patient and myself to come to a decision together, the GeneSight test is invaluable because they know there’s a scientific basis for it,” Dr. Miller said. “After finding a plan that’s effective, the relief that patients express when that burden is lifted and they feel like themselves again is wonderful.”