Whether moving to a new city, separation or divorce, or the loss of a loved one, we all go through difficult times where loneliness is simply part of the process of adjusting to the new normal. It is good news that we can all take steps to feel more connected and less alone in a culture that puts screen time above face time.Sources: 0
Research shows that loneliness and social isolation can have negative health effects that rival obesity and smoking. Bruneau says society has become so pathologized about loneliness that it can lead to shame about it, and that shame can cause depression, anxiety, depression and even suicide. Sources: 0, 5Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts were concerned about an epidemic of loneliness in the US. Nearly half of Americans say they feel alone, isolated, or excluded, at least in part, and it can be argued that today’s so-called loneliness epidemic poses a serious threat to public health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sources: 5, 8This means that 35.7 million Americans live alone, and the coronavirus exacerbates the problem by indefinitely limiting the number of people in the US with at least one friend or family member physically accessible. Sources: 7, 8
In order to convince us of the importance of combating loneliness, it is also necessary to fully understand the health effects of loneliness. Psychiatry concludes: “Loneliness or perceived or unwanted social isolation are a major cause of depression. Sources: 6, 7Depression, in turn, can rob the person of energy and lead them to attack the very people who could help break their isolation and affect their physical health in a way that makes it harder for them to get out of the house and get active. And in 2015, UCLA researchers discovered that social isolation triggers cellular changes that lead to chronic inflammation in people prone to loneliness. Sources: 1, 6A 2015 analysis that pooled data from 70 studies involving more than 1.5 million people in the US found that lonely people had a 26% higher risk of death. Sources: 1A report by Cigna, which surveyed 20,000 people, found that nearly half felt sometimes or always alone. In surveys in the US, Japan and the UK, more than two-thirds of respondents (67 per cent) said they felt isolated or abandoned by others, according to the report. Sources: 2, 3For whatever reason, the unmet human need for social connection has become a public health crisis. Perhaps it is because we feel social pressure to connect with others, are disappointed when we are unable to do so, or, as we like to say, experience FOMO. (fear of missing something), or perhaps it is simply because we all feel the social pressure to connect with each other, but are often disappointed in ourselves when we are really in contact with our friends, family, colleagues, work colleagues and other people around us. Whatever the reasons, the perception of loneliness is on the rise, according to a report by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
So how do we combat it? This specific article won’t be going into any solutions. But an idea is leveraging face-to-face social media options become a powerful to actually be seen and heard.