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Loneliness can increase the risk of death

Loneliness can increase the risk of death

June 20, 2024

Many times we associate the loneliness to the negative feelings that the isolation .

However, today we know that it can also have very negative material repercussions. In fact, the feeling of prolonged loneliness can increase the risk of death by 26% , percentage that is increased up to 32% in cases in which social isolation is real. These are the data published by psychologists at Brigham Young University in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Loneliness may increase the risk of death, according to a study

The study carried out by these researchers is a meta-analysis of different investigations in the field of social psychology which aims to find relationships between loneliness (real and perceived) and mortality patterns. What they found is what seems to be a correlation between social isolation and the risk of death so marked that it can have large-scale repercussions .

In addition, the results of the meta-analysis not only speak of an increased risk of death in those people who, due to their habits, have little contact with other people (that is, they show cases of real social isolation), but the same happens in people that regardless of the number of real interactions with others and the time devoted to them they feel alone. Chronic loneliness, whether real or subjective, carries certain dangers.

That is why addressing this problem is more complicated than you might expect, since not only do you have to intervene on the number of real interactions with others, but also on the quality of these relationships .

Both the subjective factor and the objective associated with loneliness can be affecting our health in different ways: producing episodes of stress, negatively affecting the functioning of the immune system, producing blood pressure states that favor the appearance of inflammations, leading to social dynamics negative, etc. All these factors interact with each other and feed each other, and that is why, although they do not have to translate into the occurrence of fatal accidents, they wear away the health of the organism , causing it to age before and complications of all kinds appear.

Virtually all the benefits associated with a life full of satisfying relationships can serve to get an idea of ​​the negative aspects that lack of physical and emotional contact with others.

Loneliness: a problem that extends in the western world

These conclusions are especially worrisome if we take into account that in Western countries there are more and more people living alone or without strong ties with any community . In addition, new forms of communication through digital media do not encourage the emergence of sustained face-to-face relationships, and there are even new ways of working that require no company other than a laptop and a drink.

In addition, a large part of the population at risk of social isolation is precisely that in a more delicate state of health: older people . These people may find themselves at a point where the family lives far away, contact with co-workers has been lost and there are hardly any social activities that are aimed at them.

Offering these older people (and ourselves) contexts in which to develop diverse social ties can be one of the fundamental keys to improving the health of people on a large scale and preventing the occurrence of certain fatal accidents. The result, in addition, would be the construction of a well cohesive society, with all the advantages that entails.

Bibliographic references:

  • Holdt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T. and Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10 (2), accessed at //

Loneliness Can Increase Risk of Premature Death by 14% (June 2024).

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