Did you know that loneliness can be just as dangerous for your health as being overweight or smoking excessively?
That may sound a bit hard to swallow, but read on to find out the startling results discovered by a team of researchers in a Utah university…
How Loneliness Kills
A study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science shared some pretty hard-hitting truths about loneliness: it can increase your risk of premature death in the same way that being overweight and smoking far too much can!
A team of researchers from the Brigham Young University analyzed data on the lifestyles of adults. The data they analyzed came from a wide variety of studies, and included more than 3 million people. The adults were all younger than 65.
The startling discovery was that loneliness, living alone, and social isolation increased the risk of death by a drastic amount!
- Loneliness, which is defined as a feeling of isolation and a lack of companionship, caused a 26% increase in mortality rates.
- Social isolation, which is defined as feeling isolated even when in the middle of a group of people, caused a 29% increase in mortality rates.
- Living alone caused a 32% increase in mortality rates.
What a saddening realization that being alone in the world can kill you faster than many diseases and health disorders! The link between loneliness and death was compared to the risk of death caused by being overweight or smoking up to 15 cigarettes every day. That’s a hard thing to wrap your head around!
But what is causing all of this loneliness?
- More people living alone — According to a 2012 census taken by the US Census Bureau, 1 in 4 people live alone. Compare that to 1 in 6 people in 1970 and 1 in 20 people back in 1900, and you can see the drastic increase.
- Less interpersonal connectivity –– Thanks to an increase in personal technology, the world has become increasingly disconnected. We’ve all seen tables filled with people sitting around on their phones and devices, not sharing more than a few words for hours at a time. The lack of interpersonal connectivity has lead to more loneliness and social isolation than ever before.
- Higher divorce rates — Divorce rates have been on the rise for the last few decades, which means more and more single people to suffer from loneliness and social isolation.
- People leaving home for work — With business opportunities being more available not just out of town and out of state but also out of country, more and more people are traveling away from home for work purposes. This means that they are leaving their family (parents, spouse, children) behind, leading to loneliness and isolation for both parties–those staying and those leaving.
- Aging population — As the population ages, the risk of death increases. Couples are often separated by the death of one spouse, leading to loneliness and social isolation on the part of the surviving spouse.
All of these things contribute to the increase in loneliness in the world, and they are all increasing the mortality risk.
In order to prevent loneliness from stealing lives, it’s vital to make connections! Connecting online is a good way for many lonely people to reach out and find other people with similar interests and passions, but it’s important that the connections go beyond the superficial. Deep, lasting friendships can help to stave off the killer that is loneliness, improving the quality of life and lengthening your lifespan.