How are Millennials, Gen-Z, Boomers coping with COVID-19 stress? Surprising survey results here

Nearly two-thirds of millennial and Gen-Z respondents said they feel anxiety nearly every day, which is triple the rate of Boomers.

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Friday, July 31, 2020
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Researchers break down how different generations are handling the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As people everywhere are dealing with stress and anxiety from the coronavirus crisis, health is an important aspect of ABC7's Building A Better Bay Area mission.

The source of the stress can be tied to a job loss, dealing with sick family members, or social isolation, and not everyone is handling it in the same way.

RELATED: UCSF study reports stress levels in emergency physicians during COVID-19 pandemic

"This is the first time that I experienced anxiety as this overwhelming problem, said Masha du Toit, a science fiction writer and online graphics instructor. "I stopped being able to eat. You know, it was like this fire burning inside of me."

Masha turned to Woebot Health, a San Francisco-based online tool that helps people deal with anxiety and stress, developed by a Stanford trained clinical research psychologist. It conducted a survey of 2,100 users globally.

Nearly two-thirds of millennial and Gen-Z respondents said they feel anxiety nearly every day. That's triple the rate of boomers.

The reason could be tied to younger people having lost their jobs, or not having a wide network of emotional support from friends or a relationship.

It surprised researchers that only one in five essential workers acknowledged they were depressed or hopeless, compared to 27% of all respondents.

VIDEO: Virtual town hall addressing COVID-19 impact on mental health

Essential workers, of course, are often dealing with the sick and dying, or related aspects of the coronavirus crisis.

Dr. Alison Darcy is the founder of Woebot Health.

"It just speaks to the importance of having meaning and purpose in the day-to-day work that you do and how that can actually convey some protection against, you know, the worst effects of an emotional distress," she said.

The survey also revealed people dealing with stress and anxiety have identified some positive developments, labeled silver linings.

A large number, ranging from 59 to 79 percent, said they created new possibilities, strengthened their connections with others, saw an increased appreciation of life, identified personal strengths and created spiritual change.

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"I started noticing that I was trying to reach out to friends a lot, you know, texting people, and I thought, You know, hold on a second. I'm lonely, and I need to do something about that,'" said Masha.

That feeling of isolation, she believes, is due to her husband being an essential worker, a special needs teacher, who had to go to work and leave her alone.

What's emerging from this survey is that each of us has different thresholds of stress, and that out of that can come positive change.

"Often we don't know how strong we are until we're faced with the situation in which we have to exercise those strengths," noted Dr. Darcy.

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