Johanna Konta had to withdraw from Wimbledon after coming in close contact with a team member who tested positive. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

The crippling social isolation of living alone during the pandemic was especially acute in the United Kingdom, where the government effectively made sex between single people who were not living together illegal during the first lockdown; even after it was lifted, later restrictions were similarly stringent, only allowing single people to form “support bubbles” with one other household.  Dr. Elise Paul, the UK COVID-19 Social Study’s leader, says she is often asked, “Will individuals bounce back?”

“And the answer is that we don’t know. It’s been going on for a long time, “she said. “In terms of singles or individuals living alone, they have reported greater depressive symptoms and loneliness.” 

Families are also dealing with the consequences of the epidemic. According to a recent survey released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, 39 percent of individuals who are married or in a civil partnership experienced significant levels of worry, compared to 19 percent before the epidemic. The stress of caring for others while balancing other obligations contributed to the increase.

Healthcare volunteer Melissa Lowry prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at a regional vaccination site, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, in Wakefield, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Jessica Pan, a self-described introvert and novelist living in London, said the initial lockdown reignited her social anxiety, leaving her frightened and lonely just as she found out she was pregnant with her first child. 

Pan spent a year before the pandemic living life as an out-and-out extrovert for her book Sorry I’m Late. I Didn’t Want to Come. As a new mother, she finds herself declining virtually all social engagements because she is concerned about her baby’s health.

During a June hot, Pan was enticed by an offer to a friend’s garden, the holy grail in a city with no air conditioning. Her kid played in a paddling pool with other infants, something he’d never done before, while she spoke with other parents from her prenatal class who she’d only met on Zoom. Her kid had a fever the following day, throwing her into a spiral of remorse. 

“Fortunately, he tested negative. However, the danger is not worth it. I don’t want to lay awake at night worrying whether I have Covid or if I’ve passed it to my kid, “she said. “The capacity to be carefree has just vanished, and it’s heartbreaking.”

Weighing the dangers of re-entering society has heightened many people’s anxiety and given birth to new concerns for others.  While experts wait to discover whether one of the world’s toughest lockdowns triggers a mental health crisis, one thing is evident from interviews with hundreds of

Britons: many are experiencing reopening anxiety.  “At my workplace, we conducted a well-being survey, and they created one of those word clouds in which they asked everyone to write in how they were feeling. I said that I was weary and worried, and those were by far the two most important phrases, “Grew stated as she stroked her cat, Nelson.

“The issue with being alone like this is that you often say to yourself, ‘I’m a weirdo.’ Everyone else seems to be doing well, while I seem to be suffering.’ It’s reassuring to know that other individuals are experiencing similar emotions.”

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