Loneliness Can Have Significant Impact on Health

Source: CentralJersey.com

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued an advisory sounding the alarm about the epidemic of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in the country.

Human beings are social by nature. Connecting with others helps people lead happier, more productive, and more fulfilling lives.

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately half of U.S. adults reported feeling measurable levels of loneliness. The pandemic exacerbated feelings of loneliness as so many people were cut off from family and friends and socially isolated.

The Surgeon General also noted a concern about the impact of some kinds of technology on relationships, social connection, and health.

Although related, loneliness and social isolation are different. In simplest terms, social isolation is characterized as having few social relationships and interactions while loneliness is a feeling that results from social isolation.

It is important to realize, however, that it is not just the number of social relationships that make a difference. The quality of those relationships and the role they play in helping meet your emotional needs are also critical.

Loneliness and social isolation can affect everyone. Currently, studies find the highest prevalence for loneliness and isolation among people with poor physical or mental health, disabilities, financial insecurity, those who live alone, single parents, as well as younger and older populations, according to the Surgeon General.

Conversely, evidence shows that increased social connection can help reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, and depression.

Loneliness and social isolation can have significant health consequences. According to the Surgeon General, the physical consequences of poor or insufficient social connection include a 29% increased risk of heart disease; 32% increased risk of stroke, and 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults.

Additionally, lacking social connection increases risk of premature death by more than 60%. Put another way, the mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.

Penn Medicine Princeton House Behavioral Health provides a wide range of outpatient and inpatient services customized to meet the needs of adults of all ages as well as children who are suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders associated with loneliness and isolation.


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Loneliness Can Have Significant Impact on Health - Part 2