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Loneliness is Bad for Your Health

268px-Frederick_Leighton_-_SolitudeEveryone feels lonely sometimes. One researcher in a recent Wall Street Journal article defines loneliness this way: “Loneliness is the feeling of social isolation or dissatisfaction with your relationships.” Isolation is the feeling of being apart or separate from other people, and you can feel social isolation even when you’re in the middle of a crowd (large group) of people.

In a 2010 meta-analysis (detailed study of published research) of 148 studies (research papers or books) that included more than 300,000 participants, researchers found that feeling lonely is a very strong predictor (factor that can tell what will happen in the future) of mortality (death). In fact, people who are lonely are just as likely to die an early death as people who are alcoholics (addicted to drinking alcohol) or who smoke 15 cigarettes a day. Being lonely is worse for your health than even obesity (being very fat or overweight).

Unfortunately, people in the U.S. are reporting (saying) that they are lonelier than they have been in the past 20 or 30 years. One reason for this doubling (twice as much) of reported loneliness — from 20% in the 1980s to 40% now — may be that more adults are living alone. In 1970, 17% of Americans reported living alone, while 27% lived alone in 2012. It may also be that people spend more time in front of screens — on their computer, smart phone, or tablet — doing solitary (by yourself) activities than in the past.

Psychologists say that there is nothing wrong with being alone or doing things by yourself. It’s your mindset (way of thinking) that matters (is important). Realizing that others care for us and that we matter helps to reduce the feeling of loneliness. Looking for opportunities to interact (talk or do things) with others also help.

I’m not a psychologist but since we all feel lonely sometimes, I’m prescribing (giving you a medical treatment) for everyone reading this to visit our blog if you’re feeling lonely. Your opinions are always valued, and like any good friend, if we disagree with you, we’ll only tell you’re a bonehead (an informal and slightly funny word for a stupid person) in the most affectionate (with kind and loving feelings) way.

- Lucy

Image Credit: Frederick Leighton – Solitude.jpg from Wikipedia

22 Responses to “Loneliness is Bad for Your Health”

  1. Dan Says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you Doctor for your prescription. I will follow your advice.

    Ok guys, get ready! from now on when I disagree with you I am going to use the weapon “bonehead”

    Do not get offended I will do that with love.

    By the way, I am warning you; I am not a Bonehead, only the others. ;-)

    Thanks

  2. khaleel Says:

    Well first n formost I wanna thank my dear teachers dr lucy and macullian for making your podcasts n blogs easy for us to understand. I am a regular listener of your podcasts n I personally believe that I have come a long way in speaking english. Anyway loneliness is something that long for cuz it makes me happy and I feel so peaceful when I m lonely that doesn’t mean that im completely a introvert. I do enjoy hanging out with my friends n others at times. But loneliness can never cause us to be dead. Cuz from my perspective there are different kinds of loneliness one for instance when you are left all alone n you have the social isolation n you may suffer from depression which may lead to chronic one n eventually you may die n another example would be when you wanna be by yourself n do solitary activities just to get away from everyone to have an absolute peace of mind. Well I m nt saying that this research is totally wrong but you can’t blindly say if someone suffers from loneliness n they are just as likely to die an early death as people are something else. But I totally agree with the psychologists who have found that its our mind that matters. People like me enjoy being alone. Thank you.

  3. emiliano Says:

    Fortunate person is the one that doesn´t feel ever lonely as it is a feeling as you said Lucy, that´s feeling has been in the life of every one of us I think at least once, twice or several times.
    As much as more lonely a person could feel her/his self more un-happiness could carry inside her/his soul. When Emiliano has felt himself lonely it has been very hard for him, but fortunately for him it has been very few times.

    Being depressed you/me/her/him could feel for a long time lonely and loneliness is the rule one day after another. I do think that old people once they have lost their couple and their sons or daughter have gone away, their grandchildren don´t visit them and they could have not a social life, that´s the point to feel loneliness and it is necessary to have a strong mind to support it.
    Listening to ESL podcast, writing in the Blog, or have a cat or a dog to look after the nice pet could be a good medicine.
    Also to have good habits as listening to good music, Reading a good book and of course being as less selfish as posible. This last could be the best to don´t feel loneliness but I suposse it has to be difficult as feelings are not in our hands frequently.

    Yes, this is a good post to talk about, thank you so much Lucy by the post and the medicine.

    emiliano

  4. Vania Says:

    Loneliness is a kind of feeling that let us blue. I think that there are many ways to avoid it, such as trying to see the life for another angle. Sometimes we can feel sad, although we don’t allow us to be sad all time. The life is a gift from God, even it looks hard to face, we are here and have a chance to enjoy it. Maybe, it would be better not spending too much time watching TV , being in front of the computer or so forth. There are many places to go, such as walk on the beach, or on a park, learning how to dance:-), or helping people around of us.
    The life is much more better when we can make difference for someone. For example, teachers that help us to improve our English every day. I am sure that you and your wife do not feel loneliness. Thanks for post this article, it was really interesting and the comments of the friends were very nice.

  5. Dan Says:

    I would say that our mind is probably, the most powerful thing/tool/instrument, how you want to call it in the known universe.

    Unfortunately there are many boneheads.

    Wow, I congratulate myself! I like this one.

  6. Dan Says:

    I would not attach to loneliness a negative label.

    Just say It is a state of mind.

    Fortunately, we all are different, so we experience that feeling in various degrees and colors.

    For some folks can be bad for others good and thousands of tints in between that.

    I myself have not a social life and spend most of my time in “solitude” but have no problem of staying with others, besides the boneheads.

    Thank you guys

  7. Monobozo Says:

    Being isolated from social groups might mean that one is already dead, needs no communication and refuses food. He/She is not somebody’s money anymore… ?

  8. Dan Says:

    Here’s an alternative solution for those who see loneliness as a negative feeling.

    You will need:

    A cat, hopefully in a good mood/disposition or if you prefer half dumb.

    Instructions:

    Grab the cat, turn it upside down, put your face in the cat’s belly and feel with your nose and face the warm fur.

    Unfortunately the cat wont like that and you wind up with your face scratched by the unpredictable beast.

    You no longer feel lonely because hunger has taken its place.

    Done

  9. Dan Says:

    I meant anger not hunger.

    They sound the same I often mixed them up.

    Like world and word.

    Thanks

  10. elcomandant Says:

    In my opinion, to be alone it may be something good even necessary sometimes.

    I think that it depends of oneself. I mean that there are people smarter, nicer more selfish than others. In the same way, there are people more lonely than others. That doesn’t mean that this kind of people are sick or weird. Just can be that this people don’t need to be with somebody. In short they enjoy the solitude.

    However, there are some people that, because their strong character or their own personality don’t have any friends and people don’t like to be with them. So they feel alone and they would like to have somebody to feel accompanied. This kind of people do suffer the solitude.

    So, let’s leave the first people alone :D and let’s take care of the seconds :(

    Greetings!

  11. emiliano Says:

    First of al thank you Vania and Khaleel to be hera and give us your opinon, it is nice to see you some how new faces after all despite we can´t see each other.
    Please Khaleel it would be nice if you try to write all words, you have to be very young but old people like me have not the mind fast as to read the way
    young people write each other with the phones or the messenger, thank you in advance and be sure you are very well welcome the same as Vania, I could not
    remember if Vania has been here before, it sounds me that yes. Is it so Vania?.

    I agree with you Khaleel as I think it is different the feeling of loneliness that to be alone by our own will when we like to be so, ALONE to meditate, to go fo a walk
    or just some necesity of relax.
    So to me it is different to be alone some place, some time, for a walk or for a trip because we prefer to be without anybody for a period of time or just to do
    something we like to do alone, and that is always by our own will that the feeling of being alone, without anybody when we want to share our time with a friend, our
    relatives, sons, daughters, brothers, or our dear one, our loving couple.

    I have liked to be along several time along my entire life, it is a nice good feeling and give you some relax and the oportunity of feeling your freedom to do just what you
    want, see what you like to see or go where you like to go, without any explanations. That´s good without any doubt, but it has happened having the feeling that I was
    not alone, I have had good friends along my life and also my nice dear girl and wife afterward.

    So two different meanings, the state of physically absence of other person with you for periods of time or all your life but without necessety of being acompanied that moment, some days, months, years or even all our life and the feeling of being ALONE inside our mind and hearts, not having any friends or people to talk with.
    As the song of Beatles , do you need any body? or not? have you help of your friends? or not? do you have friends? or not?

    “With A Little Help From My Friends”

    What would you think if I sang out of tune
    Would you stand up and walk out on me?
    Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
    And I’ll try not to sing out of key
    Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
    Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
    Mm going to try with a little help from my friends

    What do I do when my love is away?
    (Does it worry you to be alone?)
    How do I feel by the end of the day?
    (Are you sad because you’re on your own?)
    No I get by with a little help from my friends
    Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
    Mm going to try with a little help from my friends

    (Do you need anybody?)
    I need somebody to love
    (Could it be anybody?)
    I want somebody to love

    (Would you believe in a love at first sight?)
    Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time
    (What do you see when you turn out the light?)
    I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine
    Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
    Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
    Oh I’m going to try with a little help from my friends

    (Do you need anybody?)
    I just need somebody to love
    (Could it be anybody?)
    I want somebody to love

    Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
    Mm going to try with a little help from my friends
    Oh I get high with a little help from my friends
    Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
    With a little help from my friends

    STAND BY ME, that is the necessety of every one person some periods of their life and just a person, friend, couple or which other ever criature that
    stand by you, stand by me……when I need you.

    Well despite I like to be ALONE SOME TIMES I need always somebody that I COULD SAY “stand by Me” dear friend….

    ******

    the song….”Stand by Me”

    “Stand By Me” was written by King, Ben / Leiber, Jerry / Stoller, Mike.

    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we’ll see
    No I won’t be afraid
    Oh, I won’t be afraid
    Just as long as you stand, stand by me

    Oh darling, darling
    Stand by me, oh stand by me
    Oh stand, stand by me
    Stand by me

    If the sky, that we look upon
    Should tumble and fall
    All the mountains should crumble to the sea
    I won’t cry, I won’t cry
    No, I won’t shed a tear
    Just as long as you stand, stand by me

    And darling, darling
    Stand by me, oh stand by me
    Oh stand now, stand by me
    Stand by me

    So darling, darling
    Stand by me, oh stand by me
    Oh stand now, stand by me, stand by me
    Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me
    Oh stand by me, oh won’t you stand now, stand
    Stand by me
    Stand by me

    That´s all, thank you dear LUCY and STAND BY US ALWAYS.

    emiliano

  12. Mahesh VL Says:

    much needed one and I loved it.Actually I was feeling lonely for quite sometime,its a hard feeling.Now I’m getting better since I know what it is and learned to counter it.You know what I’m spending most of the time in ESLpod.It helps.Thanks a lot Dr.Jeff and Dr.Lucy you always have a place in my heart.

  13. Fardowsa Dayib Says:

    I feel sometimes loneliness when i have no business especially when school is closed. i like keeping myself busy by going to the mall and hanging with my friends or relatives. Staying home alone makes my day longer and watching Tv is even worst. I would advise if you feel alone is better to do something that will keep you busy.You might have a bad feeling and think when you remain in a quite place alone. I encourage to have a fun.

  14. lilian Says:

    Hi everybody
    I think this article is completely true . being and feeling alone make our dead get closer,maybe our mind would be aware that our time is expired and it’s time to go.
    for getting away from that harmful feeling of loneliness I think we don’t need to be in a crowd of people we just need to be useful .I mean we have to feel we have something to do with this world and our presence are felt and in some ways it is helpful.i remember a few years ago I watched a movie that was peaceful warrior,it was based on a true story about a boy who was very successful in every aspect of his life but he felt lonely ,he was hectic all the days but at night when he was surrounded by the silence and darkness of the night he felt empty from inside and he was scared then he met a strange spiritual man who became his teacher.he learnt that the only goal that we have in this world is servicing the others, no matter what we do we just must do something which is    useful for others even if it is scrubbing the toilets so our minds get meditated and learned just live in the moment and needless to say that if we learned how to live in this time and place we would never feel lonely and we would be able to do incredible things. I think no matter how old are we,where do we live,who do we live with,how many children do we have,we are single or married,….we just be part of this world and take a part in that . Because like the others all we have in this world and each situations we are in is out of an accident and by chance.

  15. lilian Says:

    Hi again
    it is 3 pm here but something comes to my mind and I decided to add .it is about why a person feel only when her/his spouse passed away or his/her children grow old and gone away with their lives dear Emiliano
    I think we shouldn’t be just a good parent or spouses.
    For a good mother who spent all her life teaching and caring of her child when the child grow up and gone away she feels she is not needed any more because caring a child has been the only thing she learned to do.
    For a good house woman when her spouse has passed away she felt her time is expired since being a good housewife has been the only thing she had done all her years.
    ….
    so we shouldn’t be just that ,we must be something more and do something good in this world.we should try to work to service and help then our time is never expired even after our death.
    Thanks lilian

  16. lilian Says:

    Mistake sorry 3 Am

  17. lilian Says:

    Dear Dr Lucy
    About isolation and feeling lonely I want to mention your beautiful sentence in English café 361 ;When you’re feeling lonely, it sometimes feels like there’s a wall between you and everyone else, a wall that’s not easy to break down. 
    I think it seems feelings of loneliness can be as a consequence of loosing our association with this world,other people,society. ..and it’s the reason I wrote we should try to take part in the world and find our place here.
    with the best regards dear professor Lucy.
    lilian

  18. Parviz Says:

    Dear Lucy,
    Since I came across your blog, I knew that I’d have my hand on something valuable.
    There may be several reasons to make someone a blogger, but falling in love with you is one thing. Not being alone in my other life makes me come here, your style, sense of humor absorbs me from
    miles away.
    Your prescription for loneliness is just what the doctor ordered. As I have experimented many times, I feel bad when I am away from this blog.
    You see, not sure of what’s going on behind the scene in the center for educational development, you are imposing a new happiness paradigm.
    Which means to be here at the exclusion of all the problems.
    Thank you,
    Parviz

    P.S. Dear Lucy please don’t sue me for telling others that I have a crush on you.
    P.P.S. Dan please don’t take advantage of this.

  19. Parviz Says:

    Hey Lilian,
    I love what you wrote. I am going to watch this movie.

    We set a goal and try hard to achieve it.
    Serving others (which means doing our share of making world a better place to live) and satisfaction (what it brings to one’s life) are two important components of success.
    Albert Einstein once said ” You can’t solve problems at the same level you created them.”
    I believe he meant “we have to grow from where we are (unsatisfactory) to where we want to be (satisfactory results).
    If you fight your situation just to disagree, you are probably being unreasonable.
    But if you are trying hard to make a change in the situation, your are unsatisfied.
    Thank you,
    Parviz

  20. Øyvor Says:

    Hi dear friends, boneheads or not;)

    OK Dan; I promise, I won`t feel offended!! hahahaha, thanks for your post, made me feel happy!! Thanks=))
    This kind of humor is great Dan!!!

    With a smile to each of you dear friends out there
    Øyvor

  21. Zahra Says:

    Dear Lucy ,i appreciate you, i enjoy to read your blog :)

  22. Mousa Says:

    Thank you Dr. Lucy for the nice article about loneliness.

    I’ve never been surrounded by so many friends. regardless of the reasons; I really enjoy loneliness!

    sometimes, especially after a long day filled of heavy duties in my work. I feel that all what I need is being in a pitch-dark room straitening my gazes to the gloom and hearing nothing but some inner voices. However, sometimes it really feels as a killer.