Loneliness: Causes and health consequences

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is a state of mind - it is due to a lack of emotional connection, or relatability to the people around us.
Loneliness can cause people to feel empty, alone and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it difficult to form connections with others. Loneliness is associated with social isolation, poor social skills, introversion and depression.

Loneliness vs. solitude

Solitude is often voluntary. People who spend time in solitude also spend time with others when they crave connection.
Loneliness is marked by feelings of isolation despite wanting social connections. It is often perceived as an involuntary separation, rejection or abandonment by others.

Causes of loneliness

Situational variables:
1. Physical isolation
2. Moving to a new location
3. Divorce
4. Death of someone significant
Internal factors:
1. Low self-esteem
2. Introverted personality
Loneliness can also be a symptom of a psychological disorder such as depression. Loneliness can also be a factor that contributes to symptoms of depression.

Health risks associated with loneliness


Alcohol and drug misuse


Altered brain function


Alzheimer's disease progression


Anti-social behaviour


Cardiovascular disease and stroke


Decreased memory and learning


Depression and suicide


Increased stress levels


Poor decision-making

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