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How is Loneliness Related to Anxiety and Depression: a Population Based Network Analysis in the Early Lockdown Period

Owczarek, Marcin; Nolan, Emma; Shevlin, Mark; Butter, Sarah; Karatzias, Thanos; McBride, Orla; Murphy, Jamie; Vallieres, Frederique; Bentall, Richard; Martinez, Anton; Hyland, Philip


Marcin Owczarek

Emma Nolan

Mark Shevlin

Sarah Butter

Orla McBride

Jamie Murphy

Frederique Vallieres

Richard Bentall

Anton Martinez

Philip Hyland


High risk of mental health problems is associated with loneliness resulting from social distancing measures and ‘lockdowns’ that have been imposed globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This study explores the interconnectedness of loneliness, anxiety and depression on a symptom level using network analysis.

A representative sample of participants (N = 1,041), who were of at least 18 years of age, was recruited from the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Loneliness, anxiety and depression were assessed using validated instruments. Network analysis was used to identify the network structure of loneliness, anxiety and depression.

Loneliness was found to be largely isolated from anxiety and depression nodes in the network. Anxiety and depression were largely interconnected. ‘Trouble relaxing’, ‘feeling bad about oneself’ and ‘not being able to stop or control worrying’ were suggested as the most influential nodes of the network.

Despite the expectation that loneliness would be implicated more robustly in the anxiety and depression network of symptoms, the results suggest loneliness as a distinct construct that is not interwoven with anxiety and depression.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 20, 2022
Online Publication Date May 6, 2022
Publication Date 2022-10
Deposit Date Apr 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 7, 2024
Print ISSN 0020-7594
Electronic ISSN 1464-066X
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 5
Pages 585-596
Keywords anxiety; depression; loneliness
Public URL


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