The Health Effects of Loneliness
…When researchers study loneliness, they tend to define it as “the perceived discrepancy between one’s desired level of social connection and their actual level of social connection,” says Brigham Young University psychology and neuroscience professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Some people who are socially isolated don’t necessarily feel lonely, and some people who are lonely are surrounded by people who make them feel more alienated, not less.
But 9 million lonely people probably aren’t just a damper on the national morale; they’re likely to be a strain on national productivity and health-care systems, too. The bodies of lonely people are markedly different from the bodies of non-lonely people. Prolonged loneliness, Holt-Lunstad says, “can put one at risk for chronic health conditions, exacerbate various health conditions, and ultimately put us at increased risk for premature mortality.”