COVID-19-related anxiety predicts somatic symptoms in the UK population

Br J Health Psychol. 2020 Nov;25(4):875-882. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12430. Epub 2020 May 27.


This study aimed to estimate the association between anxiety associated with COVID-19 and somatic symptoms, using data from a large, representative sample (N = 2,025) of the UK adult population. Results showed that moderate to high levels of anxiety associated with COVID-19 were significantly associated with general somatic symptoms and in particular with gastrointestinal and fatigue symptoms. This pattern of associations remained significant after controlling for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), pre-existing health problems, age, gender, and income. This is the first evidence that anxiety associated with COVID-19 makes a unique contribution to somatization, above and beyond the effect of GAD.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; COVID-19 related anxiety; somatic symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medically Unexplained Symptoms*
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology