health

The deadly effects of loneliness.

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When it comes to our physical and emotional health there are the usual suspects we tend to focus on: dieting, exercise, smoking and sleeping.

However we never seem to talk about loneliness, which sadly has just been shown to be as deadly, if not worse than, the negative effects of obesity, smoking and excessive drinking.

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Loneliness is now being labelled as big a killer as obesity and smoking. That’s according to new research that examined the lives of three million people. That’s pretty conclusive. For those of us who have ever felt lonely (all of us), it is almost comforting to know that the effects of loneliness are finally being acknowledged.

Lead author of the study, Julianne Hold-Lunstand, told the Express that we need to take our social relationships more seriously.

“The effect of this [loneliness] is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously. A growing proportion of people across the world are now living alone and at greater risk of isolation,” Hold-Lunstand explained.

The alarming fact is that loneliness can be just as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And it’s not just the elderly who are suffering the effects. Increasing numbers of young people are feeling lonely too. So how has loneliness developed from a temporary sadness to a deadly health risk?

Your friends really are saving your life.

The loneliness epidemic is being blamed on our ageing population, high divorce rates and the need for workers to move away from home to find a job.

It seems that those who suffer from loneliness on a regular basis are more likely to die prematurely. Now we need to ask why. Researchers aren’t exactly sure themselves. All they know is that those who suffer from loneliness regularly are more likely to die prematurely and this needs to be addressed.

The study was published in the journal Perspectives On Psychological Science, and study co-author Tim Smith says the link between mental wellbeing and physical wellness is proven, and needs to be addressed. “The more positive psychology we have in our world, the better we’re able to function not just emotionally but physically.”

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He says loneliness is reaching epidemic proportions as we become more physically isolated from one another. He stated in a press release: “Not only are we at the highest recorded rate of living alone across the entire century, but we’re at the highest recorded rate ever on the planet. With loneliness on the rise, we are predicting a possible loneliness epidemic in the future.”

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