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‘Pandemic skip,’ a COVID mental health phenomenon, could delay major milestones, experts say

The coronavirus pandemic resulted in a lot of loss — and to this day people may be losing out because of it.

A mental health phenomenon dubbed the “pandemic skip” has caught viral attention on social media.

The hosts of the podcast “Between Us Girlies” revealed their understanding of the concept in a TikTok video, which has been viewed over six million times.

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“Whatever age you were when the pandemic started is … where you’re at mentally,” Casey Corradin, the Pennsylvania-based co-host, said in the video, which was posted in November 2023.

“So, these women that were, like, 27 when the pandemic started, and then it’s three years later and they’re 30, and everyone around them is having kids, they’re like … ‘I’m not ready to have kids. I’m still young, I’m 27.’”

She added, “We were in our early 20s when the pandemic started — and we took a big chunk of the early-20s, figuring-your-life-out phase, and now we’re 27 and we’re still figuring it out.”

Dominique Hamler, a registered nurse and executive director of the Los Angeles Outpatient Center, told Fox News Digital that the pandemic skip could pose a real concern for people of all ages.

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“I am just excited that there is a word for it, because we definitely lost a moment of our lives during the pandemic,” she said.

“People were suffering with not only illness, but the fact that we were isolated and couldn’t even touch each other for a long period of time.”

Hamler worked on the front lines of the pandemic as a registered nurse. She said the pandemic skip refers to “that time period where our lives were disrupted.” 

“Our lives were totally changed and will never be the same,” she said. “Not to mention our experience of what we lost from the aspect of time that we’ll never be able to gain again.”

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Hamler considers the concept a “mental regression,” as people feel stuck at the same developmental period and age they were when the pandemic started. 

“We’re still processing it years later,” she said.

Psychologist Dr. Yamalis Diaz of NYU Langone reiterated that the pandemic skip represents a significant pause or slowing down of development.

“It’s almost like a movie you paused and resumed,” she said in a conversation with Fox News Digital. 

“For people in a developmentally sensitive state … when a lot of developmental change is occurring, such as young adults, it makes sense that they would feel this most, compared to older adults whose lives were already relatively stable when the pandemic started.”

Young adults in particular may feel this impact when it comes to completing education, making career decisions, dating, establishing long-term relationships and becoming financially independent, Diaz said. 

“[These] are all critical elements of this developmental stage and were highly impacted by having to ‘pause,’” she said.

Traditional plans and milestones were also put on hold during the pandemic, said Hamler.

“If you were a young adult, maybe thinking about getting married or having kids, that was put on hold,” she said.

This “skip” could result in continued delayed development if not addressed, Hamler warned.

“We are just at the tip of the iceberg [when it comes to] addressing mental health as a whole,” she said.

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“It’s going to delay everything until we start having a conversation about it, start getting the therapy and the treatment we need to address the trauma” that the pandemic caused, she said.

For some people, Hamler suggested a “deeper dive” may be necessary in order to “advance mentally, spiritually and emotionally.”

“It’s going to take some time and … a full, head-on focus on mental health,” she said.

Diaz agreed that the pandemic skip will cause a ripple effect that could delay other milestones, but noted that it’s “not necessarily a completely new phenomenon.”

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“[This] is part of the basis for Dr. Jeffrey Arnett’s Emerging Adulthood theory,” she said.

Arnett, a psychologist, proposed that people between ages 18 and 25 are in a period called “emerging adulthood.”

“In essence, when you look back over generations, the ‘path to adulthood’ has gotten longer, and young adults are reaching what are considered ‘traditional adulthood markers’ — finishing education, leaving home, becoming financially independent, starting a career, getting married and having kids — at older ages.”

Since the pandemic was “such a dramatic, ‘stop-everything’ kind of event,” Diaz suggested that it’s likely to impact transition times for the 20-something generations, he suggested.

“This is especially true when you also consider mental health, which could also impact young adults’ ability to successfully transition through this stage,” she said.

“Given that this stage of development is already susceptible to increased anxiety, depression and executive functioning difficulties, the pandemic … added pressure to an already pressured developmental turning point.”

Hamler recommended “giving yourself time” instead of chasing milestones that may have been missed.

With 2024 marking four years since the coronavirus outbreak, Hamler encouraged people not to suppress their emotions and to seek professional help when needed.

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“We need to talk about our problems,” she said. “It’s OK to feel angry, frustrated, depressed, anxious — all these feelings are normal.”

“Between Us Girlies” podcast co-host Corradin echoed this remark in a conversation with Fox News Digital.

“It’s so comforting to see so many people, across all different ages, who feel the same way,” she said.

“[The fact that it’s] resonating with so many different people shows us that even if we feel alone — we’re not.”

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

 

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