Introduction: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Discussion: 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.


The peer reviewed version of this article is currently unavailable for download from the Edinburgh Napier Repository, please contact repository@napier.ac.uk to request a copy for personal use. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

Cite as

Owczarek, M., Nolan, E., Shevlin, M., Butter, S., Karatzias, T., McBride, O., Murphy, J., Vallieres, F., Bentall, R., Martinez, A. & Hyland, P. 2022, 'How is Loneliness Related to Anxiety and Depression: a Population Based Network Analysis in the Early Lockdown Period', International Journal of Psychology. http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2865895

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 02 November 2023
Was this page helpful?