Roughly 20% of Americans lived with“deep threats of loneliness” before social distancingwas put in place, according to Vivek H. Murthy, MD, a former Surgeon General and author ofTogether: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.
Murthy traveled the US to talk with people about their health concerns (before COVID-19). He expected them to discuss the diseases and conditions plaguing Americans today—opioid addiction, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer—only to learn thatmany Americans were struggling from loneliness and its impact on their health.
Loneliness is more than an emotional or mental health issue. It causes physiological changes that contribute to the release of stress hormones, which can cause inflammation. As such,it’s an independent health risk for heart disease, anxiety, dementia, and premature death. Murthy believes thatloneliness is also often at the root of chronic medical conditions, addiction, and even violence.
Although feeling lonely is uncomfortable, however, it can be helpful.Loneliness is a signal—just like when your body tells you that you’re sleepy or hungry.Pay attention to its cues, instead of ignoring them or trying to tamp down this uncomfortable feeling.
If you experience “deep threats of loneliness,” know you are not alone. Literally!
Take the time to reach out and connect with someone….a friend, family…..or a health professional.You are just one phone call away from a meaningful social connection.
How have you dealt with loneliness?
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