Psychiatry Investig.  2023 Feb;20(2):101-108. 10.30773/pi.2022.0178.

Time-Series Trends of Depressive Levels of Korean Adults During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic in South Korea

  • 1Department of Social Welfare, Daegu University, Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Social Welfare, Cheongju University, Cheongju, Republic of Korea
  • 3Department of Psychology, Keimyung University, Daegu, Republic of Korea
  • 4Department of Social Welfare, Sangji University, Wonju, Republic of Korea
  • 5Department of Psychology, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Republic of Korea
  • 6Department of Psychiatry, National Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 7Department of Social Welfare, Nambu University, Gwangju, Republic of Korea
  • 8Department of Psychiatry, Kyung Hee University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea


This study aimed to observe the changes in people’s depressive levels over 9 months since the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak as well as to identify the predictors of people’s depressive levels including COVID-19 infection fear in the context of South Korea in 2020.
For these purposes, four cross-sectional surveys were periodically implemented from March to December 2020. We randomly recruited 6,142 Korean adults (aged 19 to 70) by using a quota survey. Along with descriptive analysis, which included a one-way analysis of variance and correlations, multiple regression models were built to identify the predictors of people’s depressive levels during the pandemic. Results Overall, people’s depressive levels and fear of COVID-19 infection gradually increased since the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to demographic variables (i.e., being a female, young age, unemployed, and living alone) and the duration of the pandemic, people’s COVID-19 infection fear was associated with their depressive levels.
To ameliorate these rising mental health issues, access to mental health services should be secured and expanded, particularly for individuals who present greater vulnerabilities due to socioeconomic characteristics that may affect their mental health.


COVID-19; PHQ-9; Depression; COVID-19 infection fear; Disaster
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