Loneliness and its Effects on Your Health

Written by: Patrick Randolph, Ph.D.   Date updated: 6/6/2019

Summary

Loneliness can be a serious problem that damages physical health, shortens life, and boosts unhappiness.

Loneliness, a feeling of being disconnected from others, is much like social isolation, which is actually having fewer social relationships. Both are as common in the US as obesity, especially among the elderly, and have been described as a U.S. epidemic needing government attention.

Loneliness negatively impacts depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, suicide, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There are links between loneliness and cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke and having spreadable diseases.

Loneliness seems to go hand in hand with lower physical activity, alcohol misuse and smoking. It turns out to be a better predictor of early death than obesity.

Research suggests that lacking social connections is as harmful to our health as smoking 15
cigarettes
a day. Social nets and friendships reduce the risk of dying early, developing certain diseases, and helping us recover when we do fall ill.