Once in a while we all experience loneliness and a new study suggest that in recent years, people have felt increasingly lonely and isolated.
Having a few social connections may result is poor health. The research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, two meta-analyses of previous data covering 218 studies, made a stronger case that it’s a major public health issue.
“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase the risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University and lead author of the study, in a press release.
”Finding yourself unable to connect with others is never a fun feeling, but it’s an inescapable human condition, Igor Galynker, MD, associate chairman for research in the department of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City, tells Health. “Socialization activates our reward circuitry and is mentally rewarding, so the absence of such creates a withdrawal similar to feelings of hunger with food,” Dr. Galynker says.
‘’People who suffer from depression or anxiety are likely to feel isolated on a grander scale, since loneliness is a state of mind,’’ says Dr. Galynker, adding that a happy person with five social interactions a day may feel connected, while a depressed person with the same five social interactions may feel isolated and disconnected from others.
Other scientific estimates for loneliness have found that the trait is 37% to 55% heritable, but this new study was much larger than previous ones. It did look at fewer genetic variations, however earlier analyses included rare variants that were not studied here which could also explain the difference in findings, the authors wrote.
Dr. Galynker suggests that the best way to cope with loneliness is by asking for help and support.
“They shun uplifting situations. Actually reaching out is associated with fear of rejection and more stress. But if they are able to [reach out] they will feel less rejected and more likely to reach out in the future,” he says.
Recommended Video –“Mermaid Girl Who Defied Doctor’s Odds For A Decade”