According to a new report out of the US, widespread loneliness poses health risks as deadly as smoking up to 15 cigarettes daily.
According to the report from the U.S. surgeon general, about half of adults say they’ve experienced loneliness.
“We now know that loneliness is a common feeling that many people experience. It’s like hunger or thirst. It’s a feeling the body sends us when something we need for survival is missing.”
Research shows that Americans, who have become less engaged with worship houses, community organizations and even their family members in recent decades, have steadily reported an increase in feelings of loneliness. The number of single households has also doubled over the last 60 years.
The pandemic didn’t help this situation.
People spent about 20 minutes a day in person with friends in 2020, down from 60 minutes daily nearly two decades earlier.
The loneliness epidemic is hitting young people, ages 15 to 24, especially hard. The age group reported a 70 percent drop in time spent with friends during the same period.
Technology has rapidly exacerbated the loneliness problem. One study cited in its report that people who used social media for two hours or more daily were more than twice as likely to report feeling socially isolated than those who were on such apps for less than 30 minutes daily.
LONELINESS IS DEADLY
Loneliness increases the risk of premature death by nearly 30 percent, with the report revealing that those with poor social relationships also had a greater risk of stroke and heart disease. Isolation also elevates a person’s likelihood of experiencing depression, anxiety and dementia, according to the research.