Loneliness: a growing public health concern

In recent times, certain health conditions have been prevalent and received more attention than others. One of those mental health-related conditions is loneliness, a growing public health concern that has been compared to obesity.  For other public health concerns such as obesity, use of social drugs and smoking, there is a significant proportion of publicity on their danger. The same cannot be said for loneliness. This article presents research and findings on loneliness as a growing public health concern and how to manage the feelings of loneliness.

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is a feeling of social, emotional and physical disconnection from others. Loneliness is also one of those public health concerns that cannot exactly be defined as it is relative across persons. For example, one could have a large group of friends and be overly social active yet lonely. Because of the objective nature of loneliness, its effect can be more disturbing, and it can be left undiagnosed.

What research says about loneliness

Research has established that loneliness is a public health concern that requires a lot of attention as it cuts across a range of demographics. Loneliness, at a time, was commonly seen in the older population. However, studies have shown that it is prevalent among the younger population as well as the older one. One study showed, in the US, that adults of generation Z were the most affected by loneliness. Another study reported that about half of the American population felt lonely and didn’t connect as much as they would have preferred with people in their lives.

Loneliness has been compared with both smoking and obesity. For smoking, its effects have been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes daily. The effects of loneliness have been stated to be worse than obesity that is its effect on quality of life and life expectancy.

Even with several platforms for social connection, the rate of loneliness is still staggering. The numerous social connection platforms play a part in the increased prevalence of loneliness. Likes and shared posts which depict a perfect life of the poster have led to an increased feeling of depression and loneliness amongst the younger population as established by research.

Research has also established that diseases such as Alzheimer’s have contributed to the increased prevalence of loneliness in the older population. Studies have also established relationships between loneliness and quality of life and health. Loneliness has been linked to a higher occurrence of heart conditions and stroke. Loneliness has also been linked to a weakened immune system.

How to combat loneliness

There is an increased need to pay attention to one’s mental and emotional health. Since loneliness is objective, personal efforts are the ways of combating loneliness. No one else may be able to tell that one is lonely. Face-to-face contact with other humans is a great way of combating loneliness. Improved physical activity is also known to guard against loneliness. Another important activity that guards against loneliness is family time. Generally, surrounding oneself with love is the best way to combat loneliness. Loneliness can be completely prevent, and it is important to imbibe measures of combating loneliness into one’s life.


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