Mood symptoms predict COVID-19 pandemic distress but not vice versa: An 18-month longitudinal study

Benjamin A. Katz*, Iftah Yovel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic has had medical, economic and behavioral implications on a global scale, with research emerging to indicate that it negatively impacted the population’s mental health as well. The current study utilizes longitudinal data to assess whether the pandemic led to an increase in depression and anxiety across participants or whether a diathesis-stress model would be more appropriate. An international group of 218 participants completed measures of depression, anxiety, rumination and distress intolerance at two baselines six months apart as well as during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic exactly 12 months later. Contrary to expectations, depression, rumination, and distress intolerance were at equivalent levels during the pandemic as they were at baseline. Anxiety was reduced by a trivial degree (d = .10). Furthermore, a comparison of quantitative explanatory models indicated that symptom severity and pandemic-related environmental stressors predicted pandemic-related distress. Pandemic-related distress did not predict symptom severity. These findings underscore the necessity of longitudinal designs and diathesis-stress models in the study of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also emphasize that individuals with higher rates of baseline psychopathology are as particularly at risk for higher levels of distress in response to disaster-related stressors.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0273945
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Katz, Yovel. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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