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Is Loneliness a Rising Epidemic in Young People?

Is Loneliness a Rising Epidemic in Young People?

Studies suggest people in their 20s and 30s are lonelier than seniors

In 2010, The Mental Health Foundation in the U.K. found that loneliness was a bigger problem among the young than the old.  The 18-34 year-olds in an extensive study were more likely to feel lonely often, to worry about feeling alone and to feel depressed because of loneliness than those over 55.

Lynn Renwick would agree. Renwick runs a drop-in to help lonely youth in Newcastle, England in the summer, “Loneliness is not just an issue for older people in our community and many young people come to us for help to socialise with other young people." She said in an article for NE Connected online. 

So, if young people are lonelier right now than old people - how did this happen?

A look at some possible causes:

Social media makes us insecure

We're hearing about this all the time now. Numerous studies showing that rather than bring us closer, social media is making us feel more lonely and more insecure. 

A recent study shows that using Facebook makes young people feel bad. 

“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection,” says U-M social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article and a faculty associate at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).“But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result."

To be fair, Facebook may have these effects on young people, but it can have the opposite effect on the old!

In a study, seniors in residential care were trained to use social media and started using it to keep up with family, resulting in a decrease in their loneliness.

One lesson from this might be that Facebook will not reduce our loneliness if we use it to replace face-to-face time with our friends. According to the Lonely Society study in the U.K., spending time in-person, as in face-to-face with friends, produces the hormon oxytocin, which might be good for your heart as well as your feelings of well-being.

 

Young people are obsessed with being productive, even at the expense of time with friends

A recent study undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation in the U.K. found that for some young people, investing time in social activities is seen as less important than work.

People today feel pressure to be ‘productive’ and busy, and as a consequence neglect relationships with friends and family.

"Individuals pursuing aspirations in a market-driven world may be doing so at their own expense, and neglecting the basic human need to connect with others," says the Mental Health Foundation. 

There is a danger in this; making work more important for your time than friends and family is not a good choice for your health, your happiness, or even your lifespan! 

 

 

 

Why we need to prioritize friendships at every stage of our lives:

 

Spending time with friends will make you live longer

Scientists found that the loneliest were nearly twice as likely to die during their six-year study than the least lonely in a recent study. Compared with the average person in the study, those who reported being lonely had a 14% greater risk of dying. So loneliness has about twice the impact on an early death as obesity, or smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo has been studying loneliness for decades, and he puts it bluntly, 

"No matter what social species you’re talking about, all the way down to fruit flies, if you isolate them they die earlier.”

 

Spending time with friends will make you healthier

More studies are coming out all the time showing how loneliness leads to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, depression, heart attack and strokes.

In fact, loneliness and feelings of rejection activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain!

But those who spend time with good friends drink less alcohol, have healthier diets, and exercise more than lonely people, according to research.

 

Spending time with friends will make you happier

In one study, 42% of women polled felt depressed because of their loneliness. 

People who spend more time with friends find less fault with themselves and with those around them. They are significantly less likely to be depressed. In short, people who spend time with their friends are happier. 

 

Spending time with friends will save you money

One study showed that feeling lonely can make you spend more money, and be more frivolous in your spending. 

Maybe that's why it's called retail therapy?

On the flip side, spending time with friends is often rewarding but low cost - sure, you might go for dinner or drinks, but you can also just hang out, go to the park, go to the beach, or just have coffee - actually for more ideas, see this blog post. 

While there are some services and charities that are aimed to reduce loneliness in seniors, there are not currently such services existing for the younger generations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments 33

 
Ninsiima Innocent on Thursday, 04 May 2017 16:03

Indeed this is very true

Indeed this is very true
Ije4lyf on Thursday, 25 May 2017 01:09

true facts

true facts
Yousss? on Saturday, 01 July 2017 21:31

True.

True.
Anita on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 03:14

Very informative! Never realized that Loneliness has such a great impact on your/our lives negatively

Very informative! Never realized that Loneliness has such a great impact on your/our lives negatively
Gil on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 05:33

I agree
Be positive at all times
Meet new friends.
Dance as it will never be another day.

I agree Be positive at all times Meet new friends. Dance as it will never be another day.
Jo on Saturday, 07 October 2017 18:09

You are so right.
It's better to have a positive attitude and always be happy then depressed about life.
and Dancing ohh so true. If you are having troubles just dance them away!

You are so right. It's better to have a positive attitude and always be happy then depressed about life. and Dancing ohh so true. If you are having troubles just dance them away!
Jhoana on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 06:20

i want to meet new friends hello there

i want to meet new friends hello there
Rafaelr on Tuesday, 05 December 2017 16:44

hello! how are you?

hello! how are you?
Marie on Thursday, 21 June 2018 05:51

Hello Jhoana,
My name is Marie. How are you?

Hello Jhoana, My name is Marie. How are you?
Abbie on Friday, 19 October 2018 13:17

Hi.. I'm new here and hope to make new friends

Hi.. I'm new here and hope to make new friends
medamen gueliat on Monday, 04 September 2017 03:04
Nemat on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 14:21

Thats true.
Not everyone can understand you.
sometimes you show that you are happy but in reality you are burning from inside.

Thats true. Not everyone can understand you. sometimes you show that you are happy but in reality you are burning from inside.
Febrianto Kristian on Friday, 15 September 2017 16:14
:p:p:p:p:p:p
Crossy on Thursday, 02 November 2017 00:11

I need a friend

I need a friend
kasiero on Thursday, 07 December 2017 15:16

Yap, True, in need of new friends to share with Ideas on the projects.

Yap, True, in need of new friends to share with Ideas on the projects.
Cat on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 06:17

This is so true

This is so true
Jason on Friday, 22 December 2017 23:01

THE NEW WORLD ORDER. INITIATE YOUR SELF TO ENJOY RICHES AND EVERLASTING success. JOIN US FROM ANY PART of the WORLD. ONE STEP TO success AND PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT.

THE NEW WORLD ORDER. INITIATE YOUR SELF TO ENJOY RICHES AND EVERLASTING success. JOIN US FROM ANY PART of the WORLD. ONE STEP TO success AND PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT.
Su on Wednesday, 10 January 2018 12:59

This is so true, everyone feels lonely at some point, but it has become a constant in our lives. Even if we do prioritize time with friends, we're all just looking at our phones, I hate this.

This is so true, everyone feels lonely at some point, but it has become a constant in our lives. Even if we do prioritize time with friends, we're all just looking at our phones, I hate this.
Tumaj Nuri on Tuesday, 23 January 2018 21:51

Ppl who claim they enjoy living as a loner are actually...
1. Used to loneliness.
2. Unable to find the right person.
3. Afraid of getting hurt or becoming cheated.

Ppl who claim they enjoy living as a loner are actually... 1. Used to loneliness. 2. Unable to find the right person. 3. Afraid of getting hurt or becoming cheated.
Marie on Thursday, 21 June 2018 05:57

Hello,
That is very true. But I realized that if we keep practicing that kind of behavior, that how we will stay. I think trying it anyways and also having the knowledge of that it might not work so you don't get to attached might help. Keeping yourself away, you will never get the life experience.

Hello, That is very true. But I realized that if we keep practicing that kind of behavior, that how we will stay. I think trying it anyways and also having the knowledge of that it might not work so you don't get to attached might help. Keeping yourself away, you will never get the life experience.
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Monday, 22 April 2019
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