Loneliness: More than a troubling state of mind.
Here are 10 facts about loneliness that might surprise you:
- Severe loneliness is estimated to increase your likelihood of death by 14%
- Loneliness has been associated with increased internet use, especially Facebook
- Around 9 % of Australians report experiencing loneliness (this figure could in fact be much higher given the stigma attached to loneliness)
- Social rejection and isolation activate the same parts of the brain as physical pain; being alone hurts
- Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation this can lead to a number of problems like arthritis, diabetes
- Being lonely means that you are 29% more likely to have a heart attack
- Evolutionary psychologists suggest loneliness activates a fight or flight stress response in the body as our ancestors survival would have been severely impacted by social isolation and a lack of social support
- It is estimated that loneliness and the physical problems associated with it kill more people than obesity; there is a lot of talk about an obesity epidemic, maybe it’s time talk about a loneliness epidemic too
- Loneliness can make us feel physically colder, when study participants thought about a time they felt lonely they judged the room temperature as actually being a lower
- Chronic loneliness poses as significant a risk for your long-term health and longevity as cigarette smoking
Many people feel lonely or isolated at one time in their lives. Some suffer chronically and find it extremely difficult cope. Sadly this is a topic that is highly stigmatised; this makes the topic harder for lonely people to talk about further perpetuating the cycle of isolation.
It is clear from the current research that in terms of tackling loneliness we face a big challenge. It is a necessity that as communities and individuals we start talking about this issue and looking for ways to reconnect with each other.