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University of Basel

06 July 2020

Stress levels remain elevated for many even as coronavirus restrictions are lifted

Woman with protective mask
Even after restrictions were lifted, 40% of people feel more stressed than before the pandemic. (Photo: engin akyurt, Unsplash)

There is less fear of coronavirus since the end of the lockdown, but 40% of the population still feels more stressed than before the pandemic began. These are the results from the analysis of the University of Basel’s Swiss Corona Stress Study. The prevalence of severe depressive symptoms remained relatively high, even after restrictions were lifted. Interestingly, older people appeared to be less susceptible to depressive symptoms during the coronavirus crisis.

The latest results from the Swiss Corona Stress Study refer to the period from 11 May to 1 June 2020, i.e. the period when measures to control the coronavirus outbreak were gradually lifted. During this period, 10,303 individuals from throughout Switzerland took part in the anonymous online survey at coronastress.ch. The first survey was conducted during lockdown, from 6 to 8 April.

Because the data was collected through a public online survey, the study is by definition not representative of the total population. However, the sociodemographic attributes of the respondents mean they still represent a broad spectrum of the Swiss population.

Different stress reactions

As already seen from the analysis of the first survey, the coronavirus crisis has prompted a wide range of different stress reactions. The research team led by Professor Dominique de Quervain reports that:

  • 40% of respondents reported feeling more stressed than before the coronavirus crisis, even as measures were lifted. As before, the main reasons for increased stress include changes in people’s work or education situations as well as the impact of restrictions on social interaction. During lockdown, around 50% of survey respondents reported feeling more stressed than before the coronavirus crisis, i.e. slightly more than during the period of lifting.

  • 28% of respondents reported no change in their perceived stress levels, compared to around 24% during lockdown.

  • 32% of respondents actually reported feeling less stressed than before the crisis. For them, the drop in stress levels is still linked to having more time for rest and relaxation as well as a decrease in the number of professional, educational and personal commitments. During lockdown, around 26% reported feeling less stressed than before the coronavirus crisis.

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