Experts say loneliness is more deadly than smoking a pack of cigarettes and being overweight.
USAGeneral Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murthy said loneliness can lead to higher rates of stroke, anxiety, dementia and depression.
Levels of loneliness have been rising for years but have rapidly worsened amid lockdowns brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Technology has exacerbated this problem.
According to one study, Americans spent about 20 minutes a day face-to-face with friends in 2020; the rate was one hour per day about twenty years ago.
Approximately a quarter of older adults and 5-15 percent of adolescents worldwide are socially isolated.
“DON’T STICK ON SOCIAL MEDIA”
Dr. Murthy said social isolation has “profound consequences for health and society,” including a 30 percent higher risk of heart disease.
And, he added, “We have an obligation to make the same investments in rebuilding society’s social fabric that we have made in addressing other global health challenges such as tobacco use, obesity and the addiction crisis.”
Dr. In an advisory in May, Murthy urged Americans to interact more with friends, relatives and colleagues, spend less time online and avoid getting bogged down on social media.
Loneliness increases the risk of premature death by nearly 30 percent, and those with poor social relationships also have a higher risk of stroke and heart disease. Isolation also increases a person’s likelihood of experiencing depression, anxiety and dementia.