A recent survey found that nearly half of Americans report feeling lonely, and one in four say they always or often feel alone. It’s no surprise that feelings of loneliness are on the rise; the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to isolate themselves from friends and family, which deepened an already trending pattern of solitude and isolation among adults.
According to a study conducted by Cigna, loneliness in adulthood is something that touches every demographic. However, there are certain factors that put someone at higher risk for experiencing chronic loneliness. Men and women tend to experience feeling alone at a similar rate, but younger adults are more than twice as likely to experience it than older adults. Minority groups and those with lower incomes are also at a higher risk. Around 65% of parents report feeling lonely on most days—with mothers and single parents making up the most of this percentage. People who have physical disabilities or who have mental health disorders round out the list of most at risk. Conversely, chronic loneliness can have a significant impact on mental and physical health. This could add to existing problems, or create new ones.
Loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide if not addressed. Conversely, struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns can lead to a withdrawal from social activities and loneliness. No matter how it happens, feeling lonely can worsen preexisting health conditions. People who are or feel isolated are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than those who have regular socialization and feel accepted by their peers. Spending a large amount of time alone can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and developing unhealthy eating habits. Both of these are leading causes of weight gain and the development of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and more. A lack of social interaction may also lead to cognitive decline and memory problems—increasing the risk of dementia or Alzheimers.
For years there have been stigmas around openly talking about mental health struggles. This has led to greater incidences of depression and isolation—leading to greater amounts of people struggling with being lonely. Through the advocacy of many individuals, public figures, and groups, mental health is becoming less stigmatized. Making people more confident to reach out for help and speak about their experiences to help others. Here are some ways to reduce or prevent loneliness:
Getting support is important for your journey out of loneliness. Reach out to friends and family for support, as well as support groups and professional support. PaceGroup is a company that facilitates small groups of like-minded people who gather via video conferencing and talk with the guidance of a mediator. They have specific groups for people who are dealing with loneliness.
Working with a professional therapist is also a great idea. Talk therapy is a great way to help you develop conversation skills and confidence. There are a few different types of talk therapy, and the therapists here at Medens Health can help you decide which one would work best for you.
If you or someone you know in the California or Nevada areas are struggling with loneliness, reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.
The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.
If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.