Research article Topical Sections

Psychosocial risk factors associated with social anxiety, depressive and disordered eating symptoms during COVID-19

  • Received: 23 August 2022 Revised: 23 December 2022 Accepted: 11 January 2023 Published: 07 February 2023
  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted society and negatively impacted mental health. Various psychosocial risk factors have been exacerbated during the pandemic, leading to the worsening of psychological distress. Specifically, a need for structure, loneliness, concerns about body image and social media use are risk factors previously implicated in poor mental health. The current study examines how these risk factors are associated with mental health outcomes (i.e., social anxiety, depressive and disordered eating symptoms) during the COVID-19 pandemic (January–March 2021). A total of 239 participants were recruited (average age = 24.74, 79% female, 68% White). The results revealed that a need for structure, loneliness and social media use were positively associated with social anxiety. In addition, loneliness, negative concerns about body image and social media use were significantly related to disordered eating and depressive symptoms. Lastly, when examined all together, the overall model for risk factors predicting mental health outcomes was significant: Wilks' Λ = 0.464, F(12, 608.814) = 17.081, p < 0.001. Loneliness and social media use were consistently associated with all psychological symptoms. These results emphasize the need for interventions for social anxiety, depressive and disordered eating symptoms that encourage structured daily activities, social connection, positive perception of oneself and mindful social media use.

    Citation: Carlee Bellapigna, Zornitsa Kalibatseva. Psychosocial risk factors associated with social anxiety, depressive and disordered eating symptoms during COVID-19[J]. AIMS Public Health, 2023, 10(1): 18-34. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2023003

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  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted society and negatively impacted mental health. Various psychosocial risk factors have been exacerbated during the pandemic, leading to the worsening of psychological distress. Specifically, a need for structure, loneliness, concerns about body image and social media use are risk factors previously implicated in poor mental health. The current study examines how these risk factors are associated with mental health outcomes (i.e., social anxiety, depressive and disordered eating symptoms) during the COVID-19 pandemic (January–March 2021). A total of 239 participants were recruited (average age = 24.74, 79% female, 68% White). The results revealed that a need for structure, loneliness and social media use were positively associated with social anxiety. In addition, loneliness, negative concerns about body image and social media use were significantly related to disordered eating and depressive symptoms. Lastly, when examined all together, the overall model for risk factors predicting mental health outcomes was significant: Wilks' Λ = 0.464, F(12, 608.814) = 17.081, p < 0.001. Loneliness and social media use were consistently associated with all psychological symptoms. These results emphasize the need for interventions for social anxiety, depressive and disordered eating symptoms that encourage structured daily activities, social connection, positive perception of oneself and mindful social media use.



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    Acknowledgments



    This research project was supported by the Research Experience for Undergraduates Award from Stockton University.

    Conflict of interest



    All authors declare no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this research.

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