Anxiety soared and happiness and life satisfaction fell as Britain entered its third national lockdown, figures have shown.

Levels of anxiety are at their highest since last April, when the first wave of coronavirus was at its peak, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Some 42% of adults reported high levels of anxiety, the highest proportion since April 3 to 13, when 46% reported this.

People surveyed between January 7 and 10 also said they were less happy, less satisfied with their lives overall and were less likely to feel things they are doing are worthwhile.

The fall in wellbeing coincides with the start of England’s third national lockdown, announced on January 4, when people were told to stay at home.

Percentage of adults with high levels of anxiety
(PA Graphics)

This was also announced for Scotland on January 4 while Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford extended restrictions to the whole nation earlier on December 19.

The ONS analysed responses from 3,833 people as part of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey to understand the impact of Covid-19 on society.

It found that 56% said their wellbeing is affected by the pandemic, up from 53% the previous week, and 27% said they feel lonely often, always or some of the time, up slightly from the previous week.

More than three quarters (78%) said they felt very or somewhat worried about the effect of coronavirus on their lives.

It also compared adults’ behaviour now to that over Christmas and its run-up.

Levels of anxiety compared with pre-pandemic levels
(PA Graphics)

The figures show 62% of respondents stayed at home or only left home for a limited set of reasons in the previous seven days, up from 41% over Christmas and 32% in the run-up to Christmas.

Fewer people said they had left home to meet up with others in a public space (6%) or personal space (4%).

The ONS said some of this activity may have taken place before the new lockdown was introduced.

The figures show that 48% of respondents said they had socialised indoors for reasons excluding work or education in the previous seven days.

Around 11% of people met up indoors with at least one person who was not in their household or support bubble.

The ONS estimates this is the equivalent of 5.5 million people in Britain.

Six per cent of those who met up with others said they spent between a day and more than five days together.

The ONS said the 11% could include people who have formed childcare bubbles meeting indoors.

People were asked about their largest gathering over the past week, so in addition some adults may have met in smaller groups which is not captured in the data.

Tim Vizard, principal research officer at the ONS, said: “This week, more people are telling us that they are staying at home compared with previous weeks, and fewer of us are meeting up with family and friends outside home.

“We are still seeing a high level of compliance with measures such as wearing face coverings and social distancing.

“However, we are also seeing a rise in those saying they are experiencing anxiety, which is back at levels last seen in April 2020.”