Study: Loneliness May Shorten Lifespan as Much as Obesity

Study: Loneliness May Shorten Lifespan as Much as Obesity
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

In a new study, researchers found the impact of loneliness is more severe than most of us think – in fact, loneliness might be just as dangerous as obesity when it comes to your overall health.

The study, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, was conducted by a research team led by Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad. The team found that consistently feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your health, and “chronic loneliness” may even shorten the human lifespan just as much as obesity.

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More Americans Choose to Live Alone

Experts expressed major concern over these results, especially since many Americans are now choosing to live alone instead of with their family, friends or roommates. The study’s co-author, Tim Smith, said that the rate of individuals living alone is steadily rising, which is a factor likely to add to the potential severity of this issue. According to the Census Bureau, 27 percent of households were single-person households, up from just 17 percent in 1970.

“We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously,” Holt-Lunstad said. “The effect is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously.”

This study is not the first to point out the possible impact loneliness could have on overall health, wellness and lifespan. In a past study, researchers found that feeling lonely raises the risk of death to the same level as alcoholism or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Unfortunately, research also shows that surrounding yourself with more people may not be the answer. Many individuals report feeling lonely even when they’re with close friends, and others find it impossible to avoid isolating themselves, especially those who suffer from depression or anxiety.

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What you can do about chronic loneliness

There are a variety of ways to tackle the gloom of loneliness. If you can’t be in the physical presence of someone, make sure you call them or message them through the phone. If you live alone and are finding the experience lonely, especially after a breakup, then look into sex dolls which some people swear by for being incredibly beneficial when experiencing loneliness. To avoid the potential harm of chronic loneliness, we need to differentiate between simply being surrounded by people and truly connecting with others – try to strengthen relationships you’re already comfortable with instead of seeking out new friends. Often, a thoughtful conversation with your best friend will leave you feeling far less lonely than a night out with a large group of people.

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