Loneliness Poses Health Risks

Cadrene Heslop

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Humans are social creatures. According to studies, humans need social connections for mental and physical health. In 2019, 3 in 5 Americans (61%) felt lonely, rising from 54% in 2018. Several studies state that the pandemic between 2020-21 has deepened loneliness in America. A June 2021 survey reported that 32% of adults worldwide feel isolated.

The AARP Foundation considers these feelings as an epidemic. The Foundation's investigation shows that more adults 50 and older report social isolation. This isolation is due to distancing measures used to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections. The research also points out that sad individuals do not seek help.

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Astronaut Scott Kelly, who experienced 340 days of isolation, says help is critical. "When I was in space for a year, not only was help available to me. It was mandatory. On earth, however, people don't know that help is readily available."

Researchers link loneliness to a variety of physical and mental conditions. These medical issues include obesity, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and even death. A 2010 study found that loneliness is a bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness, living alone, and poor social connections lead to mental decline. And an early mortality rate.

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New research further suggests that loneliness reshapes the brain. The network where people dwell on the past, plan the future, and daydream will change. And have stronger connections with other regions of the brain. "In the absence of desired social experiences, lonely individuals may be biased toward internally directed thoughts, such as reminiscing or imagining social experiences."

According to Cigna, positive social engagement and talks with a professional are ways to deal with chronic loneliness.

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*Medical Advice Disclaimer: This information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material contained in this article are for informational purposes only. No material in this article is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.*

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