A public health problem

A public health problem

Most people consider loneliness a personal problem to be figured out by individuals. 

However, a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health identified high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, disability, cognitive decline, and depression among the conditions affected by loneliness. What we have is a public health problem.

No emerging technology or drug exists on the horizon to cure loneliness. 

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Generation Z (ages 18-22) had the highest loneliness scores, followed by the millennials (ages 23-37). The Greatest Generation (adults ages 72 and older) were the least lonely. 

Lonely people are less able to pick up on positive social stimuli, like others’ attention and commitment signals, so they withdraw prematurely – in many cases before they’re actually socially isolated.

Among the theories on why there is more loneliness today is more time online and less time in front of people. 

However, levels of in-person interactions, physical and mental wellness and life balance are more likely to predict loneliness than social media usage.

Loneliness and the workplace

Those who say they work just the right amount are least likely to be lonely. Both working too much and not enough, increase loneliness scores. 

People who are less lonely are more likely to have regular, meaningful, in-person interactions. They are in good overall physical and mental health, have achieved balance in daily activities,  and have good relationships with their coworkers.

Regular sleep, good quality family time and the right amount of exercise lowered loneliness scores.

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Loneliness

Loneliness is a universal human emotion that is both complex and unique to each individual. because it has no single common cause, the prevention and treatment of this potentially damaging state of mind can vary dramatically.

For example, a lonely child who struggles to make friends at school has different needs than a lonely older adult whose spouse has recently died.

Loneliness Is a State of Mind

Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, if you feel alone and isolated, then that is how loneliness plays into your state of mind.

For example, a college freshman might feel lonely despite being surrounded by roommates and other peers.

Recognize the impact of loneliness

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is also associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood pressure, as well as dementia 

Having healthy social networks can decrease the risk of mortality and of developing diseases, as well as helping people recover when they are ill. 

Recognizing the impact loneliness could have on you is the first step to tackling it.

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