Psychological Impact of Corona Lockdown in Germany: Changes in Need Satisfaction, Well-Being, Anxiety, and Depression

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec 5;17(23):9083. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17239083.


All over the world; measures have been implemented to contain the novel Sars-CoV-2 virus since its outbreak in the beginning of 2020. These measures-among which social distancing and contact restrictions were most prominent-may have an overall effect on people's psychological well-being. The present study seeks to examine whether lockdown measures affected people's well-being; anxiety; depressive symptoms during the lockdown and whether these effects could be explained by reduced satisfaction of the basic psychological needs of autonomy and relatedness. N = 1086 participants of different ages and educational levels from all over Germany reported strong declines in autonomy and well-being; small declines in relatedness satisfaction; moderate increases in anxiety and depressive symptoms. These effects were stronger for people with moderate to bad subjective overall health. Latent change modeling revealed that, especially, decreases in autonomy satisfaction led to stronger decreases in well-being as well as stronger increases in anxiety and depressive symptoms; whereas decreases in relatedness had much weaker effects. Our results imply differential effects depending on individual preconditions; but also more generally that peoples' need for autonomy was most strongly affected by the lockdown measures, which should be considered as important information in planning future lockdowns.

Keywords: Sars-CoV-2; anxiety; autonomy; basic psychological needs; depression; lockdown; mental health; pandemic; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Young Adult