The dictionary defines loneliness as: sadness because one has no friends or company. So in today’s society, you would think with the multitude of social media options, such as Facebook and Twitter, loneliness would be almost non-existent. But, according to CIGNA’s recent nationwide survey, the reality is quite the opposite. People are suffering more today with feelings of loneliness. A whopping 47 percent of respondents say they “sometimes or always” feel “alone” or “left out”. Surprisingly, there was no affect to the average of the loneliness scale even if people were living with others. In some cases living with others in a household made people feel even more excluded.
The survey concluded that the loneliest generation of adults was Generation Z, those who are between the ages of 18 and 22 years old. The main reason, upon examining the physical, mental and social needs of Generation Z, was a lack of human connection. Studies show that this lack of human connection leads to a lack of vitality, which in turn creates a disconnect between mind and body.
Other contributing factors for loneliness:
- physical isolation, moving to a new location
- death of a significant person in your life
Loneliness is a state of mind, causing people to feel empty, alone and unwanted. Over time, if these feelings persist, the formation of much needed connections with other people becomes more difficult and may result in more isolation.
If left untreated loneliness can lead to a wide range of negative effects, both physically and mentally to include:
- Depression and suicide
- Increased stress levels
- Decreased memory and learning
- Antisocial behavior
- Poor decision making
- Alcoholism and drug abuse
Feelings of loneliness may be fended off or alleviated by maintaining a healthy work/life balance, getting proper sleep, moderate exercise and spending quality time with family. Though researchers are finding that loneliness is becoming more common in the United States, they have also discovered that it is not the quantity of social interactions that combats these feelings, but it is quality.
We are social creatures and we require real, intimate connections with other people. Finding someone you can connect and truly trust is essential to our well-being and that holds true with a good counselor or therapist. If you or someone you know is struggling with this or any other mental health conditions the staff at Huntsville Psychotherapy & Counseling Services are here to listen, support and provide tools to empower and improve your life.