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The main causes of poor health impacting quality of life are low back pain, depressive disorders and headaches, according to a new global research published in The Lancet journal.

The study analysed healthy life expectancy during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and found that even though people around the world are living longer, “they aren’t spending all those years in good health.”

“With low back pain, the leading cause of poor health globally, we see that the existing treatments aren’t working well to address it,” said co-first author Damian Santomauro, affiliate assistant professor of the Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, US.

“We need better tools to manage this major cause of global disease burden,” he added.

In contrast, Santomauro said that for depressive disorders, therapy or medication or a combination of both for an adequate amount of time can work. “However, most people in the world have little or no access to treatment, unfortunately,” he said.

“Considering how depression increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s urgent to ensure that everyone with this disorder can get treatment,” he further said.

Examining how men and women responded to COVID-19, the researchers found that women suffered more than men when it came to the secondary effects of the viral infection, involving long COVID and mental disorders, even as men were more likely to die from the infection than women.

Women were found to be twice as likely as men to experience long Covid, and most likely to be affected by depression, seen to increase sharply during the pandemic.

The researchers presented updated estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) study 2021, which analysed data from 204 countries and territories. The GBD study is the largest and most comprehensive effort to quantify health loss across places and over time, according to the IHME, which coordinates it. 

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