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Health Risks Associated With Loneliness

Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health, including:

  • Depression and suicide
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Increased stress levels
  • Decreased memory and learning
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Poor decision-making
  • Alcoholism and drug abuse
  • The progression of Alzheimer's disease
  • Altered brain function

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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.

  • Loneliness is strongly connected to genetics. 
  • Situational variables, such as physical isolation, moving to a new location, divorce and the death of someone significant in a person's life can also lead to feelings of loneliness. 
  • Loneliness can be a symptom of a psychological disorder such as depression.
  • Loneliness can also be attributed to internal factors such as low self-esteem.
Close Friends Combat Loneliness

Experts believe that it is not the quantity of social interaction that combats loneliness, but it's the quality.

Having just three or four close friends is enough to ward off loneliness and reduce the negative health consequences associated with this state of mind.

It does require a conscious effort on your part to make a change. 

Making a change, in the long run, can make you happier, healthier, and enable you to impact others around you in a positive way.

  • Recognize that loneliness is a sign that something needs to change.
  • Understand the effects that loneliness has on your life, both physically and mentally.
  • Consider doing community service or another activity that you enjoy.
  • Focus on developing quality relationships with people who share similar attitudes, interests, and values with you.
  • Expect the best. Lonely people often expect rejection, so instead focus on positive thoughts and attitudes in your social relationships.

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Definiton of loneliness

While common definitions of loneliness describe it as a state of solitude or being alone, loneliness is actually a state of mind.

Loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people. 

Loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. instead, if you feel alone and isolated, that is how loneliness plays into your state of mind.

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IDEAS

... is that lonely people can’t see that lots of people feel the same way they do.
Loneliness seems to be such a painful, frightening experience that people will do anything to avoid it. We shut down the lonely, afraid that this might be some kind of a contagious situation.

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.