Between 40 and 60 percent of U.S. adults report feeling lonely— a statistic that may be amplified as COVID-19 regulations prevent most in-person social interaction.
Loneliness and isolation are associated with a range of negative health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression and a weakened immune system.
According to Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, loneliness can have the same effect on a person’s lifespan as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
“We evolved to be social creatures and thousands of years ago if you were connected to other people you were more likely to have a stable food supply and to be protected from predators,” Murthy told CBS News. “So when you’re disconnected, you’re in a stress state. When that happens chronically, it can have a profound impact on your health.”
Despite the rise of social media, the connectivity of the internet, and the affordability of travel, about half of Americans still feel alone.
In fact, a 2017 study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reported that social media use may be associated with increased feelings of loneliness. In the young adults surveyed, those with the highest social media usage were three times more likely to have perceived social isolation.
We all have times of feeling distant from friends and family or moments where we feel misunderstood. But if you are experiencing chronic loneliness or a regular sense of social isolation, you’re in the majority. In that respect, you’re not alone..