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Pandemic is Harder on Women Than Men, Research Says

Womxn on window ledge

When it comes to mental health, the COVID-19 pandemic may be exacting a tougher toll on Canadian womxn than men, according to recent research out of the University of Calgary School of Medicine. 

The study examined survey results of 112 men and 459 womxn in Canada submitted online between March 23 and June 7, 2020. In this window, many major cities were in lockdown  with schools and businesses closed; people were told to socially distance and to stay at home as much as possible to help reduce virus transmission. 

Two-thirds of survey respondents reported poor sleep quality, while over a third reported worsening insomnia. All respondents reported increased anxiety and distress. 

Related: 8 ways to practice self-care during the pandemic.

The study’s lead author, Veronica Guadagni, said that womxn reported more anxiety and depression. “Their symptoms worsened over time and with greater length of the isolation period.” While both men and womxn reported a progressive rise in anxiety, depression, worsening sleep and trauma, it tended to be greater for womxn over time. 

Womxn, too, reported higher scores for empathy, the ability to understand the emotions of others and to care for them. However, greater empathy was associated with greater anxiety, depression and trauma. 

See also: Self-care vs. self-soothing: know the difference.

“I was not surprised by the findings; wom[x]n are the ones who carry the additional load,” said senior investigator Giuseppe Iaria, a professor of psychology. “Taking care of family and critical situations has always been a huge load on wom[x]n and females.” 

The findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Global Women’s Health.

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