Young adults had a loss of years of mental health and well-being during the H1N1 flu outbreak

Young adults in a part of Pennsylvania lost five years’ worth of growth from their mental health and well-being due to the mushroom-shaped outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, according to a new study from a psychiatry and population health researcher at Penn State.

The study analyzed data from Penn State’s initial wave of survey data collected among 1999-2010 adults who participated in the Health Survey Plus.

Data in the study group compared those who initially experienced the H1N1 flu to those who were exposed to the outbreak after that first wave, as well as data from participants who were not exposed to the virus during the first wave. The researchers also examined data in the study group for specific symptoms of psychiatric distress, including symptoms of depression, PTSD and anxiety.

With six years of additional data, the researchers found that younger adults who were exposed to the first wave of the H1N1 flu had a cumulative loss of nearly five years of growth in mental health and well-being, whereas those who were not exposed to the virus during the first wave experienced a cumulative loss of about two years of growth.

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