Rhitu Chatterjee

The past year and a half have been stressful on many fronts for Chris Aragon, a caregiver for his older brother who has cerebral palsy.

"The left side of his body is atrophied and smaller than his right side, and he has trouble getting around. He's kind of like a big teenager," says Aragon, 60, who is part Apache and lives with his brother on the Fort Berthold Reservation of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, in North Dakota.

Even before the federal government's recent decision last week to authorize COVID-19 boosters all adults, it had already recommended them in October for people with certain high-risk conditions. Along with with illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, that list included mental health conditions.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The CDC recently added people with mental illness to the list of those who should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee explains why psychiatric disorders put people at higher risk of COVID.

Of all the ways in which the pandemic has affected Americans' well-being, perhaps the one we've noticed least is how much we're sitting. And it's not just bad for our waistlines — it's hurting our mental health.

More than a year and a half of social distancing and work-from-home policies have led to less time moving around and more time sitting and looking at screens — it's a potentially toxic combination that's linked with poorer mental health.

Of all the sad statistics the U.S. has dealt with this past year and a half, here is a particularly difficult one: A new study estimates that more than 140,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent or a grandparent caregiver to COVID-19. The majority of these children come from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Updated August 24, 2021 at 1:57 PM ET

Ever since Marty Parrish was 17, he has struggled with bouts of major depression.

"It tends to run in cycles," recalls the resident, now 58, of Johnston, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines. "When I'm on medication, and medication is working, my symptoms are alleviated."

Think sweat is gross?

"It could have been so much worse," says Sarah Everts, the author of a new book called The Joy of Sweat, that is all about, you guessed it, the science of sweating.

Turns out human sweat — our body's air conditioning system — is really pretty tame on the "yuck" scale of animal cooling methods.

The pandemic has taken a massive toll on people's mental health. But a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what many of us are seeing and feeling in our own lives: The impact has been particularly devastating for parents and unpaid caregivers of adults.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

With almost 40% of the U.S. fully vaccinated, many parts of this country are opening up, but not everybody is quite ready. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has been talking with psychologists about why.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People feeling burned out at work are not alone. A recent survey of workers in more than 40 countries found that more than 60% of them reported they felt burnt out often or very often during the pandemic. Research shows that workplace burnout poses a serious risk to mental health. So our Life Kit team asked how you can know when you're burned out and what to do when you are. In this encore presentation, NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has some tips.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

It was over a decade ago when Regina Crider's daughter first attempted suicide at age 10.

A bag of Doritos, that's all Princess wanted.

Her mom calls her Princess, but her real name is Lindsey. She's 17 and lives with her mom, Sandra, a nurse, outside of Atlanta. On May 17, 2020, a Sunday, Lindsey decided she didn't want breakfast; she wanted Doritos. So she left home and walked to Family Dollar, taking her pants off on the way, while her mom followed on the phone with police.

With COVID-19 cases still soaring across the U.S., it can be tempting to just ride the winter out on the couch, binging on Netflix. But psychologists say it's important in 2021 for us all to keep up human contact.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated Nov. 3, 10:05 a.m. ET

This Election Day, many Americans are on edge. Nearly 70% of respondents said the elections are a significant source of stress, according to a survey out this month from the American Psychological Association.

President Trump has signed into law a bipartisan bill to create a three-digit number for mental health emergencies. The Federal Communications Commission had already picked 988 as the number for this hotline and aims to have it up and running by July 2022. The new law paves the way to make that a reality.

"We are thrilled, because this is a game changer," says Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Editor's note: Since we published this story, Trump's physician said that the president has completed his treatment for COVID-19.

President Trump told Fox Business Network on Thursday that he will be taking a steroid for COVID-19 for a "little bit longer." As his physicians told reporters last weekend, Trump started taking the drug on Saturday while he was still at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Back in early spring, Khristan Yates worked as a quality assurance analyst at a marketing company and loved her job. "I had one of the best jobs of my career," recalls Yates, 31, a resident of Chicago.

Yates, who's a mother of two children, had moved into a bigger apartment just before the pandemic hit because she wanted to give her kids more space. At the time, she felt like she was "at the top of her world."

But as the economic effects of the pandemic hit the marketing industry among others, she lost her job in May.

Joeller Stanton used to be an assistant teacher at a private school in Baltimore and made about $30,000 a year. In mid-March, when the pandemic was just starting, her school closed for what was supposed to be two weeks. "Up to that point, we were under the impression that it wasn't that serious, that everything was going to be OK," Stanton recalls.

Nearly a quarter of people in the United States are experiencing symptoms of depression, according to a study published Wednesday. That's nearly three times the number before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

And those with a lower income, smaller savings and people severely affected by the pandemic — either through a job loss, for example, or by the death of a loved one — are more likely to be bearing the burden of these symptoms.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

For the first time since 2014, death rates in the U.S. declined and life expectancy showed a modest uptick, according to new data released in two reports Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy at birth in 2018 was 78.7 years, 0.1 year longer than the previous year.

Sarah Edrie says she was about 33 when she started to occasionally get a sudden, hot, prickly feeling that radiated into her neck and face, leaving her flushed and breathless. "Sometimes I would sweat. And my heart would race," she says. The sensations subsided in a few moments and seemed to meet the criteria for a panic attack. But Edrie, who has no personal or family history of anxiety, was baffled.

Teri Hines was in her mid-40s when she started to notice that her body was changing.

Her period became irregular and more intense. "It increased in frequency, it increased in intensity and it increased in duration," she says.

She began to have hot flashes, gained weight and her energy levels took a nosedive.

"I just did not have the energy to do the things I wanted to do," she says, like the long morning walks she loved to take with her dogs, or planning solo travel.

As a young woman, Jennifer Ford struggled with anxiety and depression. When she got pregnant, her physician advised her to stay on the antidepressant she took to manage her symptoms.

Her first pregnancy and childbirth went smoothly, she says, but things were different after she gave birth the second time. "It's when I hit my wall," Ford says.

She remembers feeling overcome by grief immediately after she got home.

"I couldn't even communicate a full sentence about how I was feeling," recalls Ford. "All I could do was cry."

Updated on Jan. 2 at 4:55 p.m. ET

California can now begin enforcing new minimum standards for light bulb efficiency, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. It's the latest split between the state and the Trump administration, which has moved to reverse the same standards on a national level.

Pages