Did you know your brain aged faster during the pandemic? And by a lot more than you’d expect.
A study in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science and summarized by The Washington Post, compared scans of teen brains before the pandemic lockdown and afterwards, and it showed that our brains might have actually aged at least three years during that period.
Stanford University experts say that this was because of major levels of anxiety, depression, and fear. Before the coronavirus, this effect only happened when kids experienced lots of chronic childhood levels of stress, abuse, trauma, and neglect. This also raises our risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
This study was done by researchers conducting MRI scans on 220 children every two years, but it stopped once the pandemic hit. They used the opportunity to change the study and see how COVID-19 changed teens’ brains and these were the results that they found.
The exact way they conducted the experiment is detailed in the sources mentioned, but the conclusion they came to was that the world-wide coronavirus pandemic might have dramatically raised our levels of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal tendencies.
They went on to say, though, that the brain does have a tendency to show nonlinear growth patterns, so it’s not a concrete fact that our brains aged three years. They also clarified that they don’t know how permanent these effects are, and how far into the future our generation will continue to be mentally affected by the lockdown.
Hopefully this study can be used as a reason to implement more mental health support for teens everywhere, because we might need it more than ever.
By Inti Navia, Senior, ChiArts