In an interview with CUF, Professor Yang Jae-won discussed Corona blues and advised what action people, including CUK students, should take to live positively in the COVID-19 period
▲People are feeling a type of depression called Corona Blues in the COVID-19 period
Starting from November 2019, COVID-19 has widespread over one year, and it is still settled as a serious problem in the whole world. Since the COVID-19 pandemic have prolonged, people feel more depressed and frustrated than happy. And this phenomenon is called the Corona Blues (코로나 블루).
According to psychiatry “Corona Blues” is a newly coined term that combines "Corona Virus" and "Blues," which means depression or lethargy caused by major changes in daily life due to the spread of COVID-19. In other words, as the COVID-19 crisis prolongs, people feel fear that they may be infected, and feel helpless and anxious due to their life caused by COVID-19.
When the word Corona Blues was first coined, people were curious about the difference between general depression and depression occurred by COVID-19. In psychology, however, depression is not classified into specific types. Even though It means that the reasons for depression are different, it does not change the criteria for diagnosis between original depression and Corona Blues. However, to point out the difference between those two, while other depression disorders are usually caused by personal events, Corona Blues is a more public phenomenon that many people experience at the same time due to a very widely experienced single event.
From September 9 to 14, the survey site Incruit has conducted a survey of 542 adult men and women about Corona Blues. And it showed that 71.6 percent of them had experienced Corona Blues. In addition, according to incruit, the number of people who experienced Corona B lues in September increased by 20% when compared to April.
As people can see the seriousness and the increasing rates of mental health caused by the COVID-19, people should not only focus on preventing the transmission of COVID-19, but also try to prevent mental illness caused by COVID-19. But how much do people know about Corona Blues?
CUK Students’ Corona Blues Survey Result
▼Result of a survey asking the awareness of Corona Blues (CUF)
When Catholic University Forum (CUF) conducted a survey related to Corona Blues to 50 students, 76.7% said they were aware of Corona Blues, while 23.3% said that they had heard of Corona Blues but did not know what concretely it was. There were zero students who had never heard of Corona Blues. This can be seen as another proof that Corona Blues has become an important issue in our society. So, do people really regard Corona Blues as a serious issue that needs to be solved in modern society?
Ninety percent of respondents said Corona Blues was a serious problem. Some of them said psychological depression interferes with social activities, that increasing rate of news about the tragedy occurred by Corona Blues as reasons for their responses. Also, other 86 percent of students said their experiences of the Corona Blues as a biggest reason for it. An anonymous student said “I am a positive person, so when I face a negative situation, I rather find another way to solve the problem than feel frustrated in the situation. However, I could not overcome the depression caused by COVID-19. After I lost my part-time job, and stopped hanging around with people, I lost the desire for living.” Other students also cited “the frustration of not knowing what to do”, “loneliness”, “acquaintances who are sensitive and depressed by COVID-19” and so on as the reasons for their experience of Corona Blues.
Interview with Professor Yang Jae-won
▲CUF is having an interview with Professor Yang Jae-won
After students shared their experience about Corona Blues, they asked some questions including “Is Corona Blues a phenomenon that occurs in everyone?” with a worried look. To solve those curiosities and to get advice for living in COVID-19, CUF interviewed Yang Jae-won professor of the psychology department.
Q. Does Corona Blues occur more frequently in people who already experienced depression and lethargy, or does it occur in everyone regardless of patients’ preexisting conditions?
CUK psychology professor, Yang Jae-won said, “The phenomenon of having a certain psychological problem occurs when an individual's vulnerability and stress events get combined,” and explained that since COVID-19 is a worldwide problem, the stress, which people around the world experience will be greater than before. It means that though people’s vulnerability degree is all different, people with high vulnerabilities will experience depression more frequently due to COVID-19 situations. And even people with low vulnerabilities will experience more depression than before they experience COVID-19.
Q. Do people need to have hope as much as possible, or do they need to give up and adapt to the frustrating situation in the COVID-19 period?
◀Result of the survey question, asking about the healthy attitude that people should take in COVID-19. (CUF)
When CUF asked the students “What kinds of attitude do you think people should have while living in the COVID-19 period?”, more than half of the participants answered that they think people should have the hope to overcome the depressing COVID-19 situation. They supported their opinion by saying, “People will lose their will to live when they adjust to the depressing situation.”
On the other hand, however, 33.3% of the students said that adjusting to the situation is better than having hope in such a situation. One of the CUK students, Kim Ye-rin (Department of psychology 20) said that she thinks adjusting the COVID-19 situation will be more helpful in people’s mental health. She advanced her view by saying, “I think the rampant spread of Corona Blues has occurred because of the reality that the COVID-19 situation does not meet people’s expectations that it will end soon.” In other words, in a situation where the Corona Virus does not end and continues to bite its tail, people continue to feel stress and depression because they stay in place and are just having hope for it to end, instead of trying to move forward in these negative circumstances.
People usually think that being optimistic is a healthy attitude for overcoming a bad situation. However, like Kim Ye-rin said, if things do not improve, those who endure the day with these hopes will be more frustrated and this will lead them to more extreme choices, or situations. Then what attitude should people take?
Professor Yang said optimism is an important factor that makes people adapt to their stressful situation. The higher the pessimism, the more difficult it is to cope with stress, the more helpless it becomes. However, he emphasized one important fact saying, “Too much optimism, however, will lead to practically impossible actions, and paradoxically, too much optimism is likely to give people a hard time.” And he added that it is because they are holding onto an unresolved problem. Thus, whether it is optimism or pessimism, ultimately, the most important thing for people in the COVID-19 era is to take the middle path.
Also, Professor Yang requested people to look at the situation intuitively and judge for themselves what to believe, as false predictions and speculations about COVID-19 are rampant. “People should avoid unnecessary information about COVID-19, because it is the main cause of excessive optimism or pessimism.”
In the future, mankind will face not only COVID-19 but also more serious diseases, which may create constraints on life. In this situation, however, it will be important for people to try to restore their daily life while maintaining a proper condition of optimism as Professor Yang advised: Exercise in a safe place, make a new hobby that you can enjoy inside of the house, and live a well-regulated life. Also, if people are bored of their life or depressed by not meeting with people, they can conversate with people by using various video methods such as zoom, or facetime.
“Life is unpredictable, and you never know what is coming next. Do not ever get too comfortable. Always be ready for change.”
No one had expected that a new disease called COVID-19 would occur in 2020 and last for over one year. However, even in such a frustrating situation, people should not despair or cause disorder by being panic. They should follow the government’s guide and try to adjust the changes and wait to find the ultimate solution for it. CUF hopes people, including CUK students, may take Professor Yang’s advice so that they can be positive--against all odds.