- disrupted sleep patterns,
- altered immune systems,
- higher levels of stress hormone,
- increased risk of heart disease by 29 percent,
- increased risk for stroke by 32 percent,
- accelerated cognitive decline,
- and premature death.
A recent NY Times article shares some disturbing statistics on social isolation:
40 percent of American adults say they’re lonely, which has doubled since the 1980’s.
One-third of Americans, older than 65, live alone.
Socially isolated individuals have a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, mainly among those who are middle age.
Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors.
The article includes this interesting observation:
“New research suggests that loneliness is not necessarily the result of poor social skills or lack of social support, but can be caused in part by unusual sensitivity to social cues. Lonely people are more likely to perceive ambiguous social cues negatively, and enter a self-preservation mind-set — worsening the problem. In this way, loneliness can be contagious: When one person becomes lonely, he withdraws from his social circle and causes others to do the same.”
How well do you recognize social cues, such as facial expressions? Do you tend to jump to negative conclusions? Negative thinking is not incurable. There’s much you can do to improve your life. It’s never too late to develop a warm social network. Depression, anxiety, and stress are all issues that you can overcome with the aid of a professional. Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area to make an appointment.
Click here to read the entire NY Times article and see how some people are trying to solve the problem of social isolation.