The Hidden Health Risks Of Loneliness

 

African American woman sad lonely in bed

According to the Labor Bureau of Statistics, for the first time since 1976, the number of singles is at 50.2 percent. Single people, for the first time, outnumber married people. People often associate loneliness with being single, but loneliness is something a person can feel or experience whether they are single or in a relationship.

READ: 5 Things Getting In The Way Of A Good Night’s Sleep

More than implications on your relationship status, loneliness is a big deal as far as your health is concerned. According to researchers at the University of North Carolina, loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. Another study cites that chronic loneliness can lead to a shorter life by as much as 14%. Loneliness, in the long term, can have a greater impact on you than obesity, dealing with poverty and your overall well-being.

The good news is that we are living longer, but this is also having an impact on us mentally, emotionally and physically as we have more time to deal with loneliness. That being said, there some factors which can greatly increase your feelings of isolation and loneliness.

They include:

  • Living alone, feeling as though you don’t have a support network in place, or being in a relationship in which you don’t feel supported
  • Being isolated from others or having limited interaction with your relatives and friends especially as you become older and enter the retirement phase of your life

READ: How Friendships Are Good For Your Health At Every Stage

“It should be as important to encourage adolescents and young adults to build broad social relationships and skills for interacting with others as it is to eat healthy and be physically active,” said Dr Kathleen Mullan Harris, of UNC and the Carolina Population Center.