Throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, eating balanced, nutritious meals is important to maintaining your overall health and well being. However, not a lot of people have the time for meal prep, not to mention the patience or skill in the kitchen to be cooking up gourmet meals seven times a week. Then what about dietary restrictions such as a vegan or gluten-free diet? And going to the grocery store? What if you have food allergies and don’t want to account for every ingredient in every single meal? It sounds exhausting, quite frankly.That’s where a prepared meal delivery service comes in. With the help of a meal delivery company, all you have to do is pull fully prepared, nutritious meals out of your fridge or freezer and warm them up — no actual cooking required for a satisfying and healthy meal. And the menu options are practically endless!
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I began to research this list of meal delivery companies before COVID-19 hit, but since March I’ve become a bigger convert. I’ve really enjoyed having these prepared meal options shipped to my door and the menu options offered by these prepared meal delivery services have been key to helping me maintain a healthy lifestyle during lockdown. Now, I’m happy to present this list to you now in hopes that a meal delivery program brings a little relief to your daily routine, regardless of whether you’re a foodie, a picky eater or somewhere in between. And, because everything is prepared, you don’t have to be a professional chef or to eat something delicious from your own fridge.Before we dive into the list, let’s answer some questions. First, how are these set apart from our favorite meal kit delivery services? While the meal kit revolution — which led to household names like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh — was all about providing you with the basic ingredients and instructions on how to pull it all together into a delicious meal, we’re betting you no longer have the time or patience to do that. Prepping and cooking your meals is really only fun when you’ve got the time to develop your recipes, go to the grocery store to shop for your own ingredients and otherwise flex your chef muscles. Not so much when your trip to the market involves a mask and getting in and out as quickly as possible. That’s why these oven-ready meal kits and healthy prepared meal services have emerged as a solution when you need quick, easy and delicious meal options but your budget for takeout is running thin. Newer healthy meal delivery services such as Veestro and Freshly have taken note of modern healthful eating habits and offer prepared menus tailored for every dietary preference, including carnivores, vegetarians, vegan and others on a plant-based diet, as well as those keeping to a keto, paleo, low-sodium, gluten-free, organic ingredients, low carb, low-sugar or low-calorie diet. No matter your dietary restrictions — or if you’re a picky eater or have food allergies — there’s a meal kit service for you. While most of the meal plan services we sorted are ready-made meals — that is, prepared, precooked and with ingredients ready to pop into the oven or a hot skillet to be heated — meals from meal kit delivery service options such as Home Chef and Gobble are not yet cooked. These “oven-ready” meal delivery plans, which fall somewhere between a classic meal kit and meal delivery, are uncooked but preassembled to be thrown together and baked, broiled or stir-fried with no major prep required for a healthy meal. In short: Please don’t eat any raw chicken. You don’t need food poisoning on top of everything else that’s going on! Most of these meal subscription companies ship their preportioned and precooked meal options frozen or partially frozen. Since the delivered meals arrive in shipments of four or more, most meals are designed to be popped right into the freezer so you can defrost and eat them over the course of the week or longer. Even if you don’t plan to eat the fully prepared meals every day — or even every week — having a prepared meal dish or two (or even snacks stashed away in the freezer for emergencies) can be helpful when you you just don’t have it in you to even boil water for pasta. And let’s not even get started on what having a stash of meal options does for our peace of mind. While I wasn’t able to try every meal from every one of the meal kit and delivery services listed, I did get a chance to try at least one meal option from each. As you’ll read, some of these meal delivery services and meal kits are centered around a particular healthy recipe meal concept. Home Chef, for instance, has simple meal kits down to a science with fresh ingredients and recipes that are already prepped and can be finished in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. Others, such as Veestro, specialize in premade or prepared vegetarian and vegan meals for those going meatless or dairy free in 2020, but still looking for an alternative to cooking. Seriously, if you’re on a special diet you need to check out the options — there’s sure to be one for you. There’s still nothing quite like a home-cooked fresh meal, but some of these simple and affordable meal services just might be the thing to lighten your load during the challenging times we’re currently living through. And, perhaps most important, these meal delivery companies don’t require a trip to the grocery store. Read more: Wine, beer, alcohol delivery: How to get alcoholic beverages delivered to your door Note that ready to eat meal delivery kit service Freshly is currently at capacity and not taking new orders so I’ve moved them to the bottom of the list. I’ll work to keep this list of the best prepared meal delivery service options up-to-date, but please check each service to ensure they are operating normally and with reasonable delivery times before placing an order. I’d also like to continue to encourage you to support your local restaurants when you’re looking for prepared meals by ordering takeout when you can, as so many restaurants are struggling mightily.
Food delivery services during the pandemic
Here are the best prepared meal delivery services and oven-ready meal kits in 2020. Best meal delivery that you still have to cook (a little): Home ChefBest prepared meal delivery for quick lunches and dinners: Daily HarvestBest meal delivery for vegetarians and vegans: VeestroBest meal delivery for calorie counting and dieting: FreshologyBest for gourmet meal delivery: Home Bistro Honorable mention best meal delivery you still have to cook: GobbleBest meal delivery for comfort food with a healthy edge: Freshly
Home Chef is a popular meal kit company and recently launched a line of oven-ready meals like cajun chicken with rice and beans, meant to take nearly all the work out of dinner but still delivering home-cooked food, technically speaking. If it’s oven-ready meal options you’re after you’ll want to choose Home Chef’s Fresh & Easy meals which are focused on no-fuss easy oven-ready options. Plus there are grill-ready meals for summer and 15-minute entree salads for those craving lighter fare or slow cooker meals that likewise require very minimal preparation and cleanup. This new category from Home Chef is designed to be low technical skill and is a good option if you’re wanting a home-cooked meal delivery plan but not interested in enlisting at a culinary institute to make it happen. Pricing: No matter how you slice it, Home Chef meal service breaks down to just under $10 per serving. Most people choose six to eight meals a week, so the average cost is about $70. But you can choose as few as six servings and as many as 12 and will save slightly more with a larger order.
Daily Harvest launched in 2015 with an army of frozen and ready-to-blend smoothies, premade soups and hearty grain bowls to keep stocked in the freezer. Some of the bowls and soups could pass as dinner but I like these best for a no-fuss lunch or breakfast. Depending on the specific offering, you either drop it into a saucepan or skillet to heat and eat. Or add nut milk and blend it up, as with the protein-packed smoothies, oat bowls or lattes.This is a great plant based meal delivery service if you want to simplify your week and keep to a healthy eating frozen meals plan. Daily Harvest uses lots of ancient grains, oats and superfoods in their recipes, which are all mostly satisfying and well balanced in terms of flavor.Pricing: With so many different offerings and options you can really choose whatever you want but soups, smoothies and chia bowls can be had for as low as $5.99 per serving, if you order a subscription and in bulk.
If you are looking for a vegetarian option, Veestro offers a wide-ranging menu meal delivery plan of 100% prepared plant-based meals for those keeping to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Vegetarian meal offerings from Veestro include dishes like tofu with red curry sauce, carrot osso buco and country-fried chick’n. Veestro uses more meat alternatives than say a Purple Carrot in the meals, so if you like seitan, tempeh and other faux ingredient meats this is a good meal delivery service to check out.The carnivore in me has to admit that many of the vegetarian options and plant-based meals I tried from Veestro were as satisfying as the food I’m used to. I would suggest this meal plan for anyone trying to cut back on meat but not going full-fledged vegetarian, as much of the food is designed to replicate a carnivore’s diet and makes for a soft landing.Pricing: Veestro meal service breaks down to roughly $11.70 per meal for 10 meals, although it’s more expensive for a one-time order. This vegan meal delivery service gets less expensive, however, if you choose a 20-meal plan ($10.80 per meal).
You might have guessed by the name but this healthy meal delivery service doesn’t specialize in creamy mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. Depending on your nutrition goals, you can focus on specific menus like vegetarian, low-carb or keto meals or to help manage diabetes. All the meal plan nutrition and calorie information is provided to help you meet those diet goals. Freshology powered by Diet-to-Go is intent on helping customers stay on track all day, too, with a full slate of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. There is less of an emphasis on delivering haute cuisine but rather hearty and nutritious fully prepared meals with good protein, and you’ll find lots of lean protein, whole grains and green veggies without a ton of pomp and circumstance. Pricing: Customizable meal plans start at $9.99 per meal. You can have as many as three meals per day delivered if you really just don’t want to cook. Ever.
Home Bistro is definitely the priciest meal delivery service on the list but that’s because the meals are of a higher caliber to be sure. You’ll find a bit less grilled chicken breast or simple pasta dishes but rather more complicated proteins like Chianti-braised short ribs, Peri-Peri pork tenderloins and chargrilled pomegranate salmon with Home Bistro. Though this takeout kit is more expensive — comparable to takeout — if you eat a lot of meat but don’t have tons of great prepared food or delivery options in your area, this is a good meal delivery service to try. And since you can order these prepared meals a la carte, you can always save it for special occasions. Pricing: Individual meals are between $19 and $27. You can order Home Bistro meals a la carte or packages of 7, 10 or 20 meals to be delivered weekly or bi-weekly.
Gobble is also not technically prepared meals but with many of the takeout kit dinners taking as little as 15 minutes to cook, it might as well be. The team at Gobble does all the recipe prep work — chopping, dicing, measuring — so you can breeze right into a cacio e pepe with shrimp and asparagus or sirloin steak with mashed potatoes. Gobble is another great option for meal delivery if your goal is freshly prepared food with very little effort.Pricing: Gobble meal kits start at $11.99 per serving but you can try your first six meals for just $36 as a one-time offer.
Freshly delivers precooked meals (fresh, not frozen) to your door. While they have healthy recipe options a-plenty, Freshly is one of the better meal service options if you want the occasional cheat meal or comfort food delivered to your door (yes, please!). Penne bolognese, peppercorn steak with mashed potatoes and chicken casserole are just some of the heartier choices you can have at the ready. But there are also healthier, low-cal options to keep yourself honest. Pardon the word-play but Freshly did have some of the freshest tasting ingredient meals, likely because they didn’t arrive pre-frozen. Not everything felt restaurant quality but overall this company delivers a lot of crowd-pleasers including chicken tikka masala and chili-topped macaroni and cheese.Pricing: The more you order the more you save with Freshly and the difference is significant. Four meals per week breaks down to $11.50 per meal but up that to 12 and the price per meal drops to $7.99.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia-Azerbaijan fighting rages in disputed region
Publishedduration39 minutes agomedia captionTanks ablaze as fighting erupts over disputed regionFierce fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces is raging on in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, with each side claiming an upper hand.The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians.The separatist authorities there said 31 of its soldiers had now died, and some lost positions had been retaken. Azerbaijan said 26 civilians had been injured in heavy Armenian shelling. It earlier reported at least five deaths.Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have already declared general mobilisation and martial law in some areas.The fighting is the heaviest seen in the long-running conflict since 2016, when at least 200 people were killed in clashes.It has sparked international calls for diplomacy, amid fears that regional powers could be drawn into the conflict in the strategically important Caucasus region.Turkey has already declared its support for Azerbaijan, while Russia – which has military bases in Armenia – called for an immediate ceasefire.The territorial dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the world’s oldest conflicts.When Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, tens of thousands died in fighting, and many ethnic Azerbaijanis were forced to flee their homes.It is now a de facto independent region, relying heavily on support from Armenia. But it is not recognised by any UN member, including Armenia.Nagorno-Karabakh – key factsA mountainous region of about 4,400 sq km (1,700 sq miles)Traditionally inhabited by Christian Armenians and Muslim TurksIn Soviet times, it became an autonomous region within the republic of AzerbaijanInternationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but majority of population is ethnic ArmenianAn estimated one million people displaced by 1990s war, and about 30,000 killedSeparatist forces captured some extra territory around the enclave in Azerbaijan in the 1990s warStalemate has largely prevailed since a 1994 ceasefireTurkey openly supports AzerbaijanRussia has military bases in ArmeniaWhat’s the latest from the battlefield?On Monday, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said another 15 of its soldiers had been killed. It had reported 16 fatalities among the military on Sunday.More than 100 people have been wounded.image copyrightEPAimage captionArmenia published photos of what it said were destroyed Azerbaijani tanksThe self-proclaimed republic also said its forces had destroyed four Azeri helicopters, 36 tanks and armoured personnel vehicles, according to the Armenpress news agency.It also said it had killed many Azerbaijani troops, but this could not be verified.image copyrightEPAimage captionAzerbaijan released images of what it said were damaged Armenian armoured vehiclesAzerbaijan’s defence ministry confirmed the loss of one helicopter but said the crew had survived, and reported that 12 Armenian air defence systems had been destroyed. It denied other losses.Azerbaijan said 26 civilians were injured in Armenian shelling, accusing Armenia of targeting densely populated areas. On Sunday, Azerbaijan said five members of the same family had been killed by Armenian shelling.In July, at least 16 people died in border clashes, prompting the largest demonstration in years in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, where there were calls for the region’s recapture.The international reactionUN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “extremely concerned”, urging both sides to stop fightingRussia’s foreign minister held urgent talks both with the Armenian and Azeri leadershipFrance, which has a large Armenian community, called for an immediate ceasefire and dialogueIran, which borders both Azerbaijan and Armenia, offered to broker peace talksPresident Donald Trump said the US was seeking to stop the violenceWhat’s the background?In 1988, towards the end of Soviet rule, Azerbaijani troops and Armenian secessionists began a bloody war which left Nagorno-Karabakh in the hands of ethnic Armenians when a truce was signed in 1994.Swathes of Azeri territory around the enclave are also under Armenian control.Negotiations have so far failed to produce a permanent peace agreement, and the dispute in the region remains one of post-Soviet Europe’s “frozen conflicts.”Karabakh is the Russian rendering of an Azeri word meaning “black garden”, while Nagorno is a Russian word meaning “mountainous”. Ethnic Armenians prefer to call the region Artsakh, an ancient Armenian name for the area.Over the years both sides have had soldiers killed in sporadic breaches of the ceasefire. Landlocked Armenia has suffered severe economic problems due to the closure of borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Russia, France and the US co-chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Minsk Group, which has been attempting to broker an end to the dispute.
Military suicides up as much as 20% in COVID era
WASHINGTON — Military suicides have increased by as much as 20 percent this year compared to the same period in 2019, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked as service members struggle under COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters and civil unrest. While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and…
WASHINGTON — Military suicides have increased by as much as 20 percent this year compared to the same period in 2019, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked as service members struggle under COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters and civil unrest. While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and Air Force officials say they believe the pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force. And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30 precent jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told The Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments. Such a move would be part of a broader effort to make the wellbeing of soldiers and their families the Army’s top priority, overtaking combat readiness and weapons modernization. The Pentagon refused to provide 2020 data or discuss the issue, but Army officials said discussions in Defense Department briefings indicate there has been roughly a 20 percent jump in overall military suicides this year. The numbers vary by service. The active Army’s 30 percent spike — from 88 last year to 114 this year — pushes the total up because it’s the largest service. The Army Guard is up about 10 percent, going from 78 last year to 86 this year. The Navy total is believed to be lower this year. Army leaders say they can’t directly pin the increase on the virus, but the timing coincides. “I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is — I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health related issues,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an AP interview. Pointing to increases in Army suicides, murders and other violent behavior, he added, “We cannot say definitively it is because of COVID. But there is a direct correlation from when COVID started, the numbers actually went up.” Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. In this March 19, 2020, file photo Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, left, accompanied by Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff, right, speaks at a news conference at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. (Andrew Harnik/AP) Preliminary data for the first three months of 2020 show an overall dip in military suicides across the active duty and reserves, compared to the same time last year. Those early numbers, fueled by declines in Navy and Air Force deaths, gave hope to military leaders who have long struggled to cut suicide rates. But in the spring, the numbers ticked up. “COVID adds stress,” said Gen. Charles Brown, the Air Force chief, in public remarks. “From a suicide perspective, we are on a path to be as bad as last year. And that’s not just an Air Force problem, this is a national problem because COVID adds some additional stressors – a fear of the unknown for certain folks.” The active duty Air Force and reserves had 98 suicides as of Sept. 15, unchanged from the same period last year. But last year was the worst in three decades for active duty Air Force suicides. Officials had hoped the decline early in the year would continue. Navy and Marine officials refused to discuss the subject. Civilian suicide rates have risen in recent years, but 2020 data isn’t available, so it’s difficult to compare with the military. A Pentagon report on 2018 suicides said the military rate was roughly equivalent to that of the U.S. general population, after adjusting for the fact that the military is more heavily male and younger than the civilian population. The 2018 rate for active duty military was 24.8 per 100,000, while the overall civilian rate for that year was 14.2, but the rate for younger civilian men ranged from 22.7 to 27.7 per 100,000, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. James Helis, director of the Army’s resilience programs, said virus-related isolation, financial disruptions, remote schooling and loss of child care all happening almost overnight has strained troops and families. “We know that the measures we took to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID could amplify some of the factors that could lead to suicide,” said Helis, who attended department briefings on suicide data. Army leaders also said troops have been under pressure for nearly two decades of war. Those deployments, compounded by the virus, hurricane and wildfire response and civil unrest missions, have taken a toll. Soldiers’ 10-month deployments have been stretched to 11 months because of the two-week coronavirus quarantines at the beginning and end. McCarthy said the Army is considering shortening deployments. Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff, said there’s new attention to giving service members “the time that they need to come back together and recover.” “We were very focused on readiness four years ago because we had some readiness challenges, and we did a great job. The force is very, very ready now. But I think it’s time now to focus on people,” he told the AP. McConville and Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston said units have begun “stand-up” days, where commanders focus on bringing people together, making sure they connect with each other and their families and ensuring they have strong values in how they treat each other. The isolation is also taking a toll on veterans, particularly the wounded. Sergio Alfaro, who served in the Army for 4 ½ years, said fears associated with the virus intensified his PTSD and suicidal thoughts. “It’s definitely something that’s made things a bit more chaotic, trying to plan for the future, do things together,” said Alfaro, who deployed near Baghdad in 2003, facing daily mortar rounds, including one that killed his commander. “It’s almost like adding more trash on the heap.” While he once feared that strangers passing by might hurt him, now he fears people may have COVID and not show symptoms. Others in support groups, he said, “are just sick of living this way, worried about what’s coming over the next hill, what next horrible thing are we going to be confronted with.” Roger Brooks, a senior mental health specialist at the Wounded Warrior Project, said veterans are reporting increased suicidal symptoms and anxiety. Between April and the end of August, the group saw a 48 percent jump in referrals to mental health providers and a 10 percent increase in mental health calls and virtual support sessions, compared to the previous five months. Brooks said there’s anecdotal evidence that the pandemic has made wounded warriors like amputees feel more isolated, unable to connect as well with support groups. He said injured vets have seen disruptions in medical visits for pain management and other treatments. Within the Army, Helis said the virus has forced an increase in telehealth calls and online visits with mental health providers. That has generated some positive results, such as fewer missed appointments. “And we also think there was a reduction in the stigma of seeking behavioral health because you can do it from the privacy of your home,” he said. Military leaders also are encouraging troops to keep a closer eye on their buddies and ensure that those who need help get it. That message was conveyed in a remarkable public statement this month by Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said he sought help while heading U.S. Strategic Command from 2016 to 2019. He didn’t reveal details but said he saw a psychiatrist — a rare public admission by a senior officer. “I felt like I needed to get some help,” Hyten said in a video message. “I felt like I needed to talk to somebody.” He encouraged others to do the same, if needed, without fear of hurting their career. Need help? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) Military veterans press 1. Individuals can also go to: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now and veterans can go to woundedwarriorproject.org or call the project’s resource center at: 888-997-2586.
Anxiety symptoms increased during the pandemic, Google Trends show
A new study has found a significant rise in people searching Google for anxiety symptoms during the pandemic.New research found that in the United States, Google searches for ‘worry,’ ‘anxiety,’ and therapeutic techniques to manage worry and anxiety have increased during the pandemic.The research, featuring as a commentary in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research,…
A new study has found a significant rise in people searching Google for anxiety symptoms during the pandemic.New research found that in the United States, Google searches for ‘worry,’ ‘anxiety,’ and therapeutic techniques to manage worry and anxiety have increased during the pandemic.The research, featuring as a commentary in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, highlights the burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed not only on people’s physical health but also their mental health.COVID-19 has had a profound effect on people. The world is approaching one million recorded deaths from the disease. And, some of those who recovered from the initial virus effects continue to suffer long-term symptoms that are yet to be fully understood.Once the knock-on effects of the disease factor in — for example, overwhelmed critical care units prolonging treatment times for people with other serious illnesses — then it is clear that the pandemic has had a devastating effect on people’s health around the world.However, as well as people’s physical health, it is also becoming clear that the pandemic is significantly affecting their mental health.Early in the pandemic, there were anecdotal reports that people’s mental health was worsening, including those with pre-existing mental health issues and those whose mental health was normally well. As time has gone on, more research has started to corroborate these reports.In the present study, the researchers wanted to explore an alternative way of determining the pandemic’s effects on mental health: analyzing Google search requests.Google Trends allows anyone to see the search terms that people use for various populations, globally and locally. As Dr. Michael Hoerger, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Tulane University Cancer Center, New Orleans, and his co-authors note:“Although by no means a ‘window into the soul,’ people’s search terms reflect relatively uncensored desires for information and thus lack many of the biases of traditional self-report surveys.”Previous health science research has made use of Google Trends data in studies, and the present study’s investigators wanted to see how effective it could be in the context of mental health in the current pandemic.To do this, they accessed weekly U.S. search terms from April 21, 2019 to April 21, 2020.By comparing the pre- and post-pandemic search terms, the researchers were able to identify four relevant themes.Firstly, following the announcement of the pandemic, search terms related to ‘worry’ increased significantly. These terms included ‘worry,’ ‘worry health,’ ‘panic,’ and ‘hysteria.’Secondly, people shifted to searching for anxiety symptoms, which spiked after the initial flurry of worry-related search terms.Thirdly, the researchers did not see a significant increase in other mental health search terms, such as depression, loneliness, suicidal ideation, or substance abuse. Rather than interpreting this to suggest that these issues did not increase, the authors speculate that people’s searches relating to these issues may occur later, or that they may be better at utilizing self-care techniques concerning these.Finally, the researchers noticed that not only did people understandably search for more online therapy rather than face-to-face therapy, they also searched for therapy techniques for dealing with anxiety symptoms. Users did so with search terms such as ‘deep breathing’ and ‘body scan meditation.’For Dr. Hoerger, “[o]ur analyses from shortly after the pandemic declaration are the tip of the iceberg.”“Over time, we should begin to see a greater decline in societal mental health. This will likely include more depression, PTSD, community violence, suicide, and complex bereavement. For each person that dies of COVID, approximately nine close family members are affected, and people will carry that grief for a long time.”– Dr. Michael HoergerThe researchers suggest that by continuing to track Google Trends data, public health bodies may be able to better identify people’s mental health needs promptly, reducing the pandemic’s psychological effects.