Background: The economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic can have a serious impact on population mental health. This study seeks to understand whether the economic shocks associated with the pandemic have a differential impact by sex because the current pandemic may have disproportionally affected women compared to men. Methods: We analyzed data from original online monthly surveys of the general population in Japan conducted between April 2020 and February 2021 (N = 9000). We investigated whether individuals who had experienced a major job-related adverse change were more likely to have experienced depressive symptoms (PHQ-9) and anxiety disorders (GAD-7) during the pandemic and also if its effect varied by sex. Results: The results of logistic regression suggest that depressive and anxiety symptoms were more prevalent among those who had recently experienced drastic changes in employment and working conditions, as well as among individuals with low income and those without college education. We also found that both female and male respondents who had experienced a major employment-related change exhibited depression and anxiety disorders. Limitations: We do not have data on the pre-COVID mental health conditions of our respondents, and our findings are descriptive. Some segments of the population may not be represented in our sample because our surveys were conducted online. Conclusions: COVID-induced economic shocks can have a detrimental effect on mental health among both economically vulnerable female and male workers.
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