Menu Close

Has Loneliness become An Epidemic?

woman struggles with loneliness

Many people, especially those struggling with a mental illness or substance use disorder, feel as though they are entirely alone. Feeling ostracized, left out, and rejected can take a toll on your mental health, and maybe even lead someone to cope with their feelings using drugs or alcohol. Our friendly staff at Arbor Behavioral Healthcare knows what it’s like to struggle. We’re here for you. Continue reading to learn about loneliness and how you can overcome it

“People Have Never Had so Many Ways to Connect, yet More and More of Us Feel Disconnected.”

This quote, from Markham Heid, author of “The loneliness epidemic” for TIME Magazine’s Special Edition: Mental Health, hits home for a lot of people. With phones constantly attached to our hip and social media keeping us connected to others, it’s a huge wonder why society can feel so lonely. Heid reports that “a recent survey of more than 20,000 American adults found that nearly half report always or sometimes feeling lonely. Meanwhile, 1 in 4 says they rarely or never feel as though they have close friends or family members who truly understand them.” Feeling lonely is something that almost all of us have experienced at one time or another. Isolation doesn’t help, either. But for people with mental illnesses or substance use disorder, they often tend to cope by isolating. This only makes loneliness worse. 

Does Loneliness Matter?

“Loneliness is associated with a 26% jump in mortality risk,” says Heid, referencing research from Brigham Young University. “That puts loneliness on par with smoking and obesity in terms of its impact on a person’s risk for death.” Besides the risk of death, loneliness also contributes to other mental health problems, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, reports Heid. Loneliness can have a long-term effect on someone’s health. If someone has persistent inflammation, — something that is common among those who see themselves as lonely often — they may be more susceptible to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and more. “‘Inflammation tears the body down,’ says Jeppe Henriksen, a medical researcher” from Denmark. “He explains that human beings ‘are made to live in herds or families.’ When deprived of regular contact with companions, people may live in ‘a constant state of mild stress.’”   In addition, Stephanie Cacioppo, an assistant professor of psychiatry and the director of the Brain Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Chicago says, “the brain is our main social organ.’ And feeling lonely may affect regions of the brain that help regulate emotion or manage stress and anxiety.” There are so many health problems that are associated with loneliness, causing it to become an epidemic in America.

If you are feeling lonely, please know that Arbor Behavioral Healthcare is here for you. We can give you the tools you need to help you succeed and go into recovery. Call us today at 844.413.2690. We can’t wait to hear from you!