First anniversary of confinement: physical and mental x-ray of the population one year later

  • The citizens who have gone to a nutrition and dietetics consultation have gained between 5 and 10 kilos in the last year, which can lead to an increase in pathologies such as cholesterol and blood pressure and obesity.
  • Even today, 10% of the population claims to be afraid and anxious about contagion. 66% of the population feels uncertainty and boredom in the face of the current situation.
  • 85% of physiotherapy consultations are aimed at treating low back pain, cervical pain and tendinitis of the shoulder and elbow.
  • 35% of the population has not kept up their routine medical check-ups, mainly because they do not consider it a priority in view of the health situation.

Barcelona, February 9, 2021 – In the midst of the third wave, with hospitals at the limit of their capacity and on the verge of the first anniversary of the initial confinement, it seems that little progress has been made with respect to what was happening a year ago. In fact, it could be said that the initial scenario has worsened. The collateral or direct effects, both physical and mental, are becoming increasingly evident in a large part of the population. According to data from the latest study by Top Doctors, 66% of the population claims to feel great uncertainty about the current situation, as well as boredom at not being able to make plans even in the short term. And even today, 11% claim to be afraid and anxious about contagion. And only 18% say they have managed to normalize the situation.

If we add to these feelings the different conditions resulting from changes in routine and lifestyle, and that health care has been relegated to the background, to the point that 35% of the population has not kept their check-ups, the main reason not having considered it a priority in the pandemic situation (74%) followed by fear of contagion or laziness, the situation encountered by experts in consultations is borderline. For this reason, the experts at Top Doctors, an online platform for finding and contacting the best medical specialists in private healthcare, analyze the most common complaints and conditions that have developed or worsened during the first year of the pandemic.

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The current socioeconomic situation exposes and aggravates pre-pandemic psychological problems.

Stress, anxiety, depression, anguish and fear are some of the psychological problems that are reaching the offices of psychologists and psychiatrists as a result of the emotional wear and tear and the changing situation that force the population to continually put themselves to the test. The loss of routines, of plans, as well as greater family coexistence or, on the contrary, greater loneliness, are the main causes that have caused pre-pandemic psychological problems to surface or worsen. “It is as if the situation arising from COVID-19 has brought to light existing but long-ignored psychological problems. Many people with a tendency to become depressed before the pandemic are now suffering from full-blown depressions. Many who were frequently anxious before now have anxiety or panic attacks. Failed forms of emotional management give rise to very disorganized, chaotic, confused or impulsive behaviors”, says Carolina Álvarez Sicilia, Psychologist and Psychoanalyst, member of Top Doctors.

This type of pathology has direct consequences on behavior or individual routines, and, for example, sleep and its quality has been altered. In fact, up to 4 out of 10 people surveyed say they sleep much worse and have disturbed and restless dreams due to the lack of peace and quiet.

The psychological effects have direct repercussions on people’s diet and physical condition.

The emotional exhaustion felt by a large part of the population has direct consequences on the way people eat and, therefore, on their physical health. In fact, up to 30% of those surveyed say that they eat much worse than before the pandemic, and have therefore put on weight. But the data of Mónica Herrero Martínez, specialist in Nutrition and Dietetics and member of Top Doctors, go further, and point out that poor diet, added to the lack of physical activity and a higher alcohol intake, has caused 50% of the citizens who have come to her office to gain between 5-10 kilos on average during this first year, and, therefore, they may suffer from obesity problems. “This has direct consequences on health, since up to 30% of people have increased their cholesterol or blood pressure. Also, between 60 and 70% of eating disorders, diagnosed in previous years, are now unable to cope with the situation and need more help,” says the nutritionist.

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85% of teleworkers have made consultations for low back pain, neck pain and tendinitis.

Teleworking and inactivity have led 63% of the population to report back pain or a feeling of heavy shoulders and neck on a daily basis since the confinement began. Consultations for low back pain, cervical pain and shoulder and elbow tendinitis, related to poor posture and lack of equipment, are growing exponentially. In fact, up to 85% of medical appointments are aimed at treating this type of pathology, according to data from Dr. Félix López, orthopedic surgeon and member of Top Doctors.

Older people have been affected by the loss of bone and muscle mass, which, together with the lack of sunshine that reduces vitamin D levels, can cause osteoporosis to progress at a faster rate and, therefore, this population group is more vulnerable to suffering some type of serious bone fracture, such as hip fractures.

“Bone edema in young patients that were initially muscle overloads have increased by 30%. The most important thing about exercise is consistency. Doing moderate exercise daily for 60 minutes, even if it is in intervals, is beneficial. Doing intense exercise twice a week for 3 hours is harmful,” says Julia Valladares Bartolomé, physiotherapist and member of Top Doctors.

The decrease in ophthalmological check-ups is causing a worsening of eye health.

Eye health has worsened, and experts foresee further repercussions, as a delay in diagnosis or poor follow-up can have irreparable vision loss consequences in the future. The decrease in ophthalmological check-ups, especially among those over 65, has led 60% of those surveyed to report worse vision, eyestrain and watery, itchy eyes. “What has increased the most in the last year in consultations are dry eye problems, with sensations of stinging, itching and redness, eye fatigue and blurred vision. In addition, myopia, which was already considered an epidemic in children, has increased due to the increased use of screens and less outdoor activities. High myopia is a risk factor for eye diseases that can lead to low vision and even blindness in adulthood due to macular degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma or cataract, among others,” explain ophthalmologists and Top Doctors members Daniel and Álvaro Villoria.

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20% of dermatological consultations are attributable to the current situation derived from COVID-19.

Dermatological conditions resulting directly or indirectly from the situation caused by COVID-19 have increased by up to 20%. The appearance of eczema, ischemic, exanthematous or urticarial chilblains is related to having or having suffered from coronavirus, especially among patients who have been hospitalized. “Massive hair loss a few days after passing the disease is another of the most common problems in the office. As well as collateral damage from mask and gel use. It is likely that the disease will remain endemic among us, so it is likely that we will continue to see cutaneous effects of the disease for a long time,” says Dr. Beatriz Castro Gutiérrez, dermatologist and member of Top Doctors.

In short, taking care of the diet, carrying out a routine and constant physical activity, avoiding the reception of negative messages and remembering that it is something temporary, whether it lasts more or less, as well as consulting with the different specialists, through telemedicine systems or in person, is essential to mitigate th
e effects of the economic and social situation.

* Doctors who have collaborated: