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Tackling the loneliness epidemic

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • According to the most recent statistics, loneliness is at “epidemic” levels in the U.S., with 46% of adults saying they sometimes or always feel lonely
  • Through interviews with leading experts, investigative journalist Johann Hari has tried to sort out why so many of us struggle with loneliness, depression and anxiety, and what we can do to turn the tide
  • Through his travels and interviews, Hari identified nine scientifically verified causes of depression — only two of which are biological. The remaining seven are all related to how we live
  • Historically, mankind survived because we banded together and worked as a group. Our very survival often depended on being part of a tribe. When feeling disconnected from community, anxiety and depression arise
  • Internet and social media arrived when our sense of community was already waning, and social media gave the appearance of giving back to us something of what we’d lost — friends and status being two examples. But it’s not a proper replacement, as humans were not designed to relate to each other without face-to-face interactions

According to the most recent statistics, loneliness is at “epidemic” levels in the U.S. In a 2018 Cigna insurance health survey of 20,000 individuals aged 18 and over:

The loneliest are young adults between the ages of 18 and 22. This age group also rated their health the lowest, which correlates with science linking loneliness with a greater risk for obesity, heart disease, anxiety, dementia and reduced life span. In fact, maintaining strong and healthy social connections has been linked to a 50% reduced risk of early death. Similarly, emotional loneliness is linked with an increased risk of all-cause mortality.


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