Survey: Many Americans still feeling increased anxiety, even as vaccine distribution surges

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As more Americans get vaccinated for COVID-19 and pandemic restrictions are lifted nationwide, many are still feeling unparalleled levels of anxiety not seen during the height of the crisis in 2020.

According to a new survey released by the American Psychiatric Association, 41% of those polled said they’re more anxious than last year. Additionally, an estimated 64% of Americans have more concern in 2021 that family or loved ones will catch the coronavirus.

That’s up from 56% a year ago.

"We really should be talking about brain health," said Dr. Luana Marques, president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. She's also associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a clinical psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"It sounds like we’re in a better place, but a lot of us are still having symptoms of anxiety and depression," she added.

Over 53% of adults with children under 18 in their household are especially concerned about their children’s mental well-being, the survey showed.

"Is it interfering in some domains of your life? Is it upsetting you enough that it’s getting in the way of your sleep or your work or ability to focus, but in a systematic way? Because during a pandemic, everyone is going to have a bad night. The question is can you not fall asleep for several days a week and it’s getting in the way of your life, your professional life and your home life," Dr. Marques explained.

But it’s not all bad.

Having some anxiety helps people actually perform better sometimes, Dr. Marques said.

Dr. Marques told KCBS Radio’s "Ask An Expert" on Wednesday data suggests that 50% of people that deal with stress are "extremely resilient and bounce back." She went on to call the pandemic a "historical marker," one that we’ll have to integrate into the way we operate for the rest of our lives.