This Is The Real Consequence Of Feeling Lonely

Photographed by Maria Del Rio.
Bad news for the lone wolves out there: New research suggests that, even if you love being alone, being lonely  isn't all that great for your health. The study, published this month in Perspectives on Psychological Science, was a meta-analysis of previously-published studies looking at the relationship between social isolation and health. The researchers found 70 studies that qualified — with 3,407,134 participants overall. On average, the studies followed participants for about seven years while monitoring their levels of social isolation and loneliness as well as whether or not they had died. Results showed that the likelihood of death increased by 26-32% for those who reported higher amounts of loneliness or social isolation, and for those who were living alone. That's about the same increased risk of death that obese people have. Although most of the studies involved participants over the age of 66, the effect was actually more pronounced in those younger than 65. Of course, the correlations here don't necessarily mean that being lonely caused those deaths. But, other studies have shown similar results. Being socially isolated is already well-established as a risk factor for cancer, heart disease, and overall mortality.  On the flip side, though, having friends (that means any number of friends — whatever number makes you feel un-lonely) is associated with all kinds of nice things: More self-esteem, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and better resilience against what life throws at you. So, who wants to do lunch?

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