Rise in depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a cross-sectional national survey

Dvora Frankenthal, Lital Keinan-Boker, Michal Bromberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has introduced many mental stressors. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of depression and anxiety during the pandemic and characterize those at higher risk. We conducted a national cross-sectional telephone interview survey among Israeli adults from May to September 2020, between the first two national lockdowns. Mental health status was measured using the 5-item Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5). A score of ≤60 was defined as poor mental health with moderate to high anxiety and depression symptoms. Multivariate analysis was used to identify demographic, health-related, and COVID-19-related risk factors associated with poor mental health. From 4,712 households that were eligible for inclusion in this study, 2,634 participants (55.9%) completed the survey. Levels of anxiety and depression symptoms increased significantly throughout the pandemic (from 12.9% to 20.3%, P < 0.001). Loneliness also increased over time (from 48.8% to 58.8%, P < 0.001), and fear of the pandemic remained high (66.5%) throughout the study. According to the multivariate analysis, poor mental health was associated with younger age, female gender, lower education, Arab ethnicity, decrease in household income during the pandemic, having a pre-existing chronic illness, obesity, smoking, ever being quarantined, feeling lonely and fear of the pandemic. Our findings show an increase in anxiety and depression over time among the Israeli population during the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings highlight the need for strengthened mental health services and the flexibility of reallocation of funds and health resources to support the growing mental health needs during the health crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Adult
  • Anxiety/epidemiology
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pandemics


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