The Health Side Effects Of The Pandemic & Lockdown

  •   Danielle L’Ami

As if Covid-19 has not been bad enough, here are some side effects of the pandemic and resulting lockdown.

An image of woman on the window to illustrate the Health Side Effects Of The Pandemic & Lockdown

To many, living through a pandemic doesn’t even feel like living; it feels like surviving. For many individuals, the pandemic has come at a steep cost; from higher levels of anxiety, to weight gain, mental health problems and so much more.

The Negative Impact on Our Mental Health

Over the past year, to some degree, many individuals have experienced a decline in mental health. According to, before the pandemic 1 in 10 Americans suffered from mental illness and substance disorders. With COVID-19, that number rose to 4 in 10.

When our mental health changes, numerous facets of our lives are affected. As a result of the isolation, inability to visit family or participate in activities of daily living, individuals experienced worsening sleep, increased alcohol consumption and drug use, worsening chronic conditions and increased struggles with food and electronic addictions.

The pandemic affected many men in particular. stated that COVID-19 had a greater negative impact on men’s mental health compared to the 2008 economic recession. Most men see themselves as the primary breadwinners and the pandemic has brought on concerns that they may no longer be able to fulfill this role as many companies or sole proprietorships were forced to close. We know job loss increases depression, anxiety, and lowers self-esteem. Symptoms of mental illness rose by 20% in those who lost their jobs or had a decrease in income during the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, many of us enjoyed the routine of heading off to work, visiting with friends or family, or shopping in a store. In the wake of the pandemic all of that abruptly stopped. We had to adapt to a world with much less human contact, a world without hugs, handshakes and interactions leading to feelings of isolation,loneliness and helplessness. Even young adults were not exempt from the mental health effects. With the closing of schools and the abolishment of extracurricular activities, greater than 50% of teens experienced anxiety and/or a depressive disorder.

Sadly, isolation has another negative impact according to an increase in both intimate partner and child abuse. This piece discusses various cases of domestic abuse seen worldwide, the majority against women. Home isolation has given even more power to the abuser because of the victims inability to flee from dangerous situations or find other housing. During the lockdown, many women and children became trapped in abusive situations and had no ability to even meet with lawyers to initiate separation or divorce if appropriate.

As the lockdowns continued, the need for escape through substances also increased. In addition to the deleterious effects of substances on the individual, many abusive relationships are fueled by substances, especially alcohol. Of additional note, cites data from the CDC that overdose deaths from August of 2019 to August 2020 increased by almost 20,000.

The Literal Weight We Have Gained

The weight on our shoulders from carrying this heavy burden of a pandemic may be nothing compared to the literal weight we have gained. While there are many jokes about fitting into our pre-pandemic clothes, the reality is that many of us can’t. describes it as “the Quarantine 19.” Almost 70 % of people say they are snacking more, while approximately 50% say they are exercising less. As we touched upon the stress of the pandemic earlier with our mental health, stress can also impact what we eat, how much we eat and our eating choices.

Additionally, increased weight is also associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and more according to Of greater importance, research has found obesity is not only an increased risk factor for COVID, but overweight individuals are at a higher risk for developing a more severe case.

Remember your abs are made in the kitchen and chiseled by exercise. Many of us used the pandemic as a reason to indulge in baking treats frequently as well as justifying the consumption of sugary foods. Additionally, many people were hesitant to go out of the house and move around. The little things we used to do during the day, from rushing around the house to getting ready in the morning, to regularly scheduled exercise time and running errands after work all add up to exercise lost. Adding a pet to your family may aid in this decreased exercise, not to mention there are added health benefits to having a pet that are discussed in the following post.

The Unexpected Impacts

While lockdowns brought canceled appointments or routine screenings, others were terrified to leave their home after states started opening even if something is amiss with their health. In some very sad situations, many more unnecessary deaths occurred or will occur, indirectly from COVID-19 than the actual virus. quotes Dr. Therese Bevers highlighting the research from the National Cancer Institute “...that predicts more than 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colorectal cancer due to poor screening rates during the pandemic.”

She goes on to say that "A woman is more likely to die from an advanced-stage breast cancer than she is from COVID-19,” which is truly tragic as many of these cancer deaths are preventable.

Silver Linings

Many of the side effects of the pandemic have seemed nothing but doom and gloom, but is it all bleak? And the answer is no. For some people, they rekindled hobbies, strengthened relationships, finished projects, taught themselves new skills, spent many hours outside, renewed relationships with their children, and much more.

People became more cognizant of the role of handwashing in the role of disease prevention. Alice Pong, a pediatric infectious disease physician, says that thanks to the pandemic, we are realizing the importance of proper hygiene. Kids growing up now will understand how germs are spread

Another positive is that people are cooking more than ever. Many families had the opportunity to have family meals together for the first time in years. Many parents took the time to teach their children how to cook or investigated new recipes because they were all home as a family. If you are worried you can’t maintain a healthy lifestyle while food prices are rising, particularly during the pandemic, then read our post on how to beat food price inflation with good nutrition.

An interesting outcome is the impact on the environment. Once again, recognized that NASA satellites have recorded monumental reductions in air pollution in major cities around the world. In some cases, 20-30 %. Check out a satellite image here. In other areas, many towns were overrun with local wildlife leading to hilarious videos. has some more great insights, noting environmental noise pollution has also been reduced. The article emphasizes that many health problems can arise when exposed to long-term noise pollution such as stress, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, hearing loss, lack of sleep, etc.

Of course, it should be noted that less economic activity does come at a huge cost and it might take many more years for us to realize the detrimental effects of the lockdown.

While the negative side effects of this global pandemic do seem to drastically outweigh the good, hopefully we have all gain some perspective from our experience: we should never take our health for granted; we should take every opportunity to hug our loved ones; make sure we get adequate vitamin D3 (see more in our vitamin D post here) and always remember to wash our hands.

Danielle L’Ami

Danielle L’Ami is a logophile who writes her passion and loves to connect with others through her thoughts and personal experiences. When she is not writing, you can find her watching hockey with her husband, torturing her children with new recipes, or practicing yoga to keep herself balanced.

My Toolbox Genomics empowers individuals in their healthcare journey by creating reports focused on genetic predispositions derived from published research. Test results and suggestions are intended to lead to consultation with one’s healthcare practitioner. MyTBG reports do not diagnose disease or medical conditions. Any lifestyle changes should result from consultation with qualified healthcare practitioners.