CORRECTION: An earlier headline on this story incorrectly said Being Single Will Kill You Faster Than Obesity, Say Scientists. The study found that social isolation is a risk factor but did not address marital or relationship status.
A 2017 study revealed that loneliness can be more dangerous than obesity. We have always known that humans are social animals but it turns out that it is actually crucial for our existence in society. Loneliness or lack of social integration might even exceed the risk of death posed by obesity. Yet, somehow, we do not know much about this problem, as it remains hidden in the media. It can be dubbed as another example of why the invisibility of mental issues can result in covering up of it, despite being a potent cause.
However, the issue is much more complicated than a simple single or committed status. According to a study, when several complex measurements of social integration are considered, then the risk of death start to get more prominent. It means that if you have no friends around, there is a chance that you might find it difficult to cope with problems.
There have been many examples as to how isolation can create problems in individuals. In prisons, for example, when a criminal behaves badly, they are put in solitary confinement as a tactic to discipline them.
But it keeps on increasing in this current era. Despite the technological advances that have supposedly connected us better and brought us closer to each other, loneliness seems to have increased further. In the US, many people are slowly feeling isolated, despite having acquaintances and family. About 70% of them believe that their friends and family would be surprised if they came to know that they were actually isolated.
A survey done by Gransnet found out that about 73% of the older population in the UK are suffering from loneliness some or all of the time. Most don’t even talk about it. But National Statistics are bringing out the truth and it is becoming more apparent that Britain is the loneliest country in the entirety of Europe.
In the UK, Loneliness has been called an epidemic and it already costs a lot of money. According to a study by LSE they estimated some of the potential costs of loneliness to health and social care services for a cohort of people aged over 65 (McDaid, Park and Fernandez, 2016). Conservatively they estimated that over a ten year period these costs could be in excess of £1,700 per person. Costs for older people who are the most severely lonely would be in excess of £6,000. Loneliness has been said to be affecting people, both physically and mentally – people who are lonely tend to suffer more when they are unwell than people who have companions around them.
Too many shreds of evidence have surfaced over the years that suggest that people who are lonely are going to have a host of health issues that only pushes them towards an early death. And since the current generation is slowing aging, it would have a terrible effect on the state of public health when these individuals grow older and that leads to different kinds of health issues. So, the issues have not only grown significantly in magnitude, but they have also become more challenging for officials as to how this silent killer can be tackled.
A suggestion is to start from early on. Since individuals develop a certain personality as they grow up, it generally means that parents, social environment, and teachers play an active role in developing their social life and their ability to interact with the outside world. Schools should be more vigilant and should actively encourage group activities so that loneliness can be tackled right from the beginning learning phases of a child. It is also necessary for individuals to open up when they are lonely so that they could be treated on that basis. According to experts, it is necessary that when people are treated for loneliness, the social environment and conditions should be factored in to come to a proper conclusion.
Mental health is a serious issue and even though it is not always visible, we should try to understand the implication of this hidden issue. It has been taken quite lightly in the past and now we are moving in a better direction. Let’s hope that the problem of loneliness can be tackled well.
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