South Koreans On Anxiety And Depression: Mental Health Problems That They Won’t Admit


The population in South Korea may be a model of physical health, but that doesn’t mean everything is ok. South Korea is one of the most beautiful places to visit with its expanding business when it comes to the skincare regimen. The great food that they offer, and the fascinating culture and heritage down to their traditional dress – Hanbok, would make any individual think that this country is somewhat a serene and lovely place to experience. A person closely related to me came back in amazement of South Korea’s beauty, but yes, all is not perfect. As with their mental health problems like depression and anxiety being recognized, it is proof that not all beautiful things exist without issues. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

These statements hold true for people in the country, with respect to mental health issues:

“Some people who are diagnosed with depression do not report feeling depressed, sad or low, but rather, they report experiencing significantly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.”Simon Rego, PsyD

“Anxiety can cloak itself in procrastination, irritability, and addictive self-soothing – all short term reduction strategies that add to its intensity and discomfort over time.”Alicia Clark, PsyD

Any person would think that South Korea is like a wellness paradise, given the highest rates when it comes to the survival of people with cancers and cardiovascular diseases compared to other developed nations. It ranks ninth for having the lowest obesity percentage in the world which is proof that you couldn’t find plus sizes of clothing for sale in Korea, unlike other countries like the U.S. which offers a wide variety of plus size clothing. The country also holds the third longest life expectancy of a healthy life. Thirty years ago, medical infrastructure in this country was limited, its coverage patchy, and no difference was found in its outcome with its northern neighbor.

But it’s not all perfect. The suicide rate in South Korea holds the highest among 35 wealthy Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Countries – given the number of 40 Koreans who commit suicide every single day, which ranges 50 percent higher than Hungary – as ranked by OECD. A high percentage of Koreans report being mainly stressed.

“Suicidal thoughts can be shorthand for “I feel ashamed, alone, helpless, depressed, guilty, angry, hopeless, and fearful.” Suicidal thoughts can remind people that they are in ultimate control of their lives during times when they feel out of control and scared.”Melissa Welby M.D.

Depression is also diagnosed with elderly Koreans, having a higher rate compared to the U.S. They are also suffering from anxiety.

Like any other person who is diagnosed with Depression or Anxiety, elderly Koreans don’t want to admit that they have the disorder or to somewhat think about it, therefore resulting in fewer people seeking mental health treatment. Most of them believe that having Depression or Anxiety means you’re a weak person, then leading in an untreated condition. Somehow, I think this is reasonably natural or common for those who have mental health issues. Who would want to admit or proclaim that they have psychological problems anyway?


There’s a recent government study that says most of the suicide victims have come to seek medical treatment rather than mental health treatment. They are in denial of their condition. They complain most about fatigue, abdominal pain, poor concentration, and headaches, which are the symptoms not mainly caused by Depression or Anxiety.

Alcoholism has the highest impact in the country since South Korea holds the highest rate of consumption of alcohol compared to Russia, and America. Besides the given problem, it is also proven that South Korea holds the lowest rate for antidepressant usage in the OECD. As for my personal experience on a day to day basis being friends with Korean exchange students back when I was still in college, I somewhat came to realize how the Koreans are so inclined with drinking alcohol.

Societal expectations and drive for success do have a significant impact when it comes to the individual happiness of Koreans. A norm set to be followed doesn’t mean that one is genuinely inclined with this for their entire life, or this to be the basis for their happiness within. Each has his own set of standards to be truly happy with life.


Kyooseob Ha, a professor of psychiatry at Seoul National University, says that there had been falling rates of mental health issues in the country in recent years. Although the reported incident that Koreans tend to neglect their psychological issues of problems, Ha, being the former president of Korean Association for Suicide Prevention and a founding director of the Korean National Mental Health Center, claims that government survey data are showing that anxiety and mood disorders are not relatively high compared to other OECD countries. He also said that the South Korean government had gained realization in terms of the utmost importance of mental health and suicide prevention in the country. The government has recently created a Department of Suicide Prevention which would be of great help for the country’s problem.

Claiming to have a lower budget of $9.7 million than the country Japan for this type of project, what’s important is at least the government found a way to realize the growing problem of the country and acknowledging it to have immediate response or action for it.

Overall, their government has a smart and creative approach when it comes to solving a problem by creating programs for the prevention of suicide, and given the fact that their budget is relatively low, the good thing is at least they come to the point that they thought well about the project and conducted such relevant actions suited for it. Small steps are better than nothing at all.

Depression and suicide are not things that should be taken lightly and professional help is necessary to deal with these, along with other mental health concerns. Koreans and any individual going through these problems can find guidance and enlightenment through BetterHelp, an online therapy platform that is dedicated to giving people the opportunity to be free from their short and long-term mental struggles. You can get connected with them anytime and anywhere, so it’s easy and convenient. Learn more about it by visiting its official site.

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