Loneliness is defined as a state of ‘solitary sadness’. Studies show that it not only makes you feel miserable it can shorten your life. Loneliness is correlated to higher systolic blood pressure, cognitive decline and overall increases in morbidity and mortality (1,2,3). We generally think of loneliness affecting those with chronic agoraphobia or debilitating OCD but, loneliness is subjective. It can afflict even the most ordinary of people.
It is a state of mind that can take hold when:
- we go through something so tragic we no longer feel integrated with our peers or community;
- we encounter a major unexpected life loss, like the loss of a job, partner or friend;
- we encounter a disappointment or failure which results in emotional withdrawal and shame.
(1) Cacioppo,J.T & Hawkley, L.C. (2010). Perceived social isolation and cognition. National Centre for Biotechnology Information 3(10), 447-454.
(2) Cacioppo, J.T et al. (2003) The anatomy of loneliness. American Psychology Society, 12(3), 71-74.
(3) Perissinotto, C.M et al. (2012) Loneliness in Older Persons: a predictor of functional decline. Internal Medicine. 172(14), 10781084.