Grief? Boredom? Emptiness? A combination of all three? Or is it loneliness?
More than 30,000 lives are being lost each year because of weight-related diseases. Health experts are warning people to get more exercise and eat healthier food to avoid getting obese. As we gain weight, chances of dying from weight-related diseases increases. However, studies now reveal that being single has a greater chance of causing death than obesity. Yes, you can actually die from being broken-hearted!
Researchers discovered that social isolation raised a person’s risk of death by half compared to obesity, which raised the risk of death by just 30 percent. Researchers can now turn their attention to examine whether loneliness causes illness that leads to death, or whether lonely people die because of lack of social support to help them cope with illness.
Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, lead author and professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, said: “Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need, crucial to both well-being and survival.
“Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment.
“Yet an increasing portion of the US population now experiences isolation regularly.”
Loneliness is deeply unpleasant, and it can be deadly.
So, what causes loneliness in our actively connected world today?
Apparently, the pursuit of wealth, and the trend of living alone, particularly in big cities have all been documented as causes of loneliness. Immigration, singlehood, and grief over too many losses are also some reasons why people are lonely.
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, the UK’s loneliness epidemic costs business $26 million per year for the costs associated with health outcomes and sick days.
Holt-Lunstad added: “There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators.
“With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase.
“Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a ‘loneliness epidemic.’
“The challenge we face now is what can be done about it.”