Anxiety rose and happiness fell as coronavirus lockdown began, figures suggest

People make their way along a deserted beach front in Bournemouth, Dorset Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Nearly half of people in Great Britain experienced high anxiety during the early days of the coronavirus lockdown, new figures suggest.

Asked to rate anxiety levels where 0 is "not at all anxious" and 10 is "completely anxious" - some 49.6 per cent of those surveyed between March 20 and March 30 reported levels of anxiety that rated between six and 10.

This is the equivalent of more than 25 million people feeling high anxiety, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which compiled the figures.

The levels of anxiety reported by survey respondents is seen to decrease as lockdown continued. Credit: PA Graphics

The average anxiety rating in this early period of the lockdown - between March 20 and 30 - was 5.2 which falls in the ONS classification of "medium".

This figure had slipped to 4.2 (still classed as medium) for the most recent period surveyed, from April 9 to April 20.

But these averages are still "much more elevated than before the Covid-19 pandemic", researchers said.

An earlier ONS survey of people in the UK in the last three months of 2019 found an average anxiety rating of 3.0 - classified as "very low".

A sign on the London Underground urges travellers to 'stay at home'. Credit: PA

The ONS also found 21.0 per cent of people reporting high levels of anxiety, compared with the 49.6 per cent in the survey taken during the early days of the lockdown.

It also compared levels of happiness, life satisfaction and feelings that things done in life are worthwhile.

The equivalent of around one in five people in Britain reported a "low" level of happiness between March 20-30 - dropping to around one in six for April 3-13.

A much smaller figure of 8.4 per cent - or around one in 12 - reported low happiness in the separate UK survey for October to December 2019.

The percentage of people reporting low levels of wellbeing have increased as lockdown continues. Credit: PA Graphics

As the lockdown has continued, the proportion of people reporting low life satisfaction has increased from 8.3 per cent for March 20-30 to 11.4 per cent for April 3-13.

A survey conducted before the coronavirus lockdown found 4.5 per cent of respondents reporting low life satisfaction.

When asked "to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?" 7.7 per cent of people rated their feelings as "low" in the earlier period of lockdown.

This decreased to 6.3 per cent in April 3-13 - a stark contrast to the 3.8 per cent in October to December 2019.

In a separate set of questions, the ONS asked people for their biggest concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The responses, compiled between April 3 and 13, suggest approximately 8.5 million people are most concerned about their wellbeing.

While 6.2 million are most concerned about work and 5.3 million are most concerned about the impact to their finances.

The ONS said happiness ratings between March 27 and April 6 were "significantly lower" for those who believed their household financial situation will get a lot worse.

Respondents who felt this rated happiness at just 5.5.

Those who believed their household financial situation would stay the same rated happiness at 6.8 - this rose to 7.1 for those who thought finances were getting a little better.

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