Health

Americans Are A Lonely Lot, And Young People Bear The Heaviest Burden.

Loneliness isn’t just a short feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like along-standing ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being.
Now a nationwide survey by the health insurer Cigna underscores that. It finds that loneliness is general in America, with nearly 50 percent of respondents reporting that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes.
Using one of the best-known tools for measuring loneliness , the UCLA Loneliness Scale, Cigna surveyed 20,000 adults online across the country. The University of California, Los Angeles tool uses a series of statements and a formula to calculate a loneliness score based on responses. Scores on the UCLA scale range from 20 to 80. People scoring 43 and above were considered lonely in the Cigna survey, with a higher score suggesting a greater level of loneliness and social isolation.
More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are outlying from others.”
The survey found that the average loneliness score in America is 44, which suggests that “most Americans are considered lonely,” according to the report released Tuesday by the health insurer.
“Half of Americans view themselves as lonely,
But the results are consistent with other previous research, a psychologist at Brigham Young University, who studies loneliness and its health effects. She wasn’t involved in the Cigna survey. While it’s difficult to compare the loneliness scores in different studies, other nationally representative estimates have found between 20 percent and 43 percent of Americans report feeling lonely or socially isolated.
Loneliness has health consequences. “There’s a blurred line between mental and physical health.”Oftentimes, medical symptoms present themselves and they’re agreed with mental, lifestyle, behavioral issues like loneliness.”
Several studies in recent years, including ones have documented the public health effect of loneliness. It has been linked with a higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. It has been shown to influence our genes and our immune systems, and even recovery from breast cancer,
And there is growing evidence that loneliness can kill. It have been have robust evidence that it increases risk for premature mortality. Studies have found that it is a predictor of premature death, not just for the elderly, but even more so for younger people.The latest survey also found something surprising about loneliness in the younger generation. survey found that actually the younger generation was lonelier than the older generations,”
Members of Generation Z, born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, had an overall loneliness score of 48.3. Millennials, just a little bit older, scored 45.3. By comparison, baby boomers scored 42.4. The Greatest Generation, people ages 72 and above, had a score of 38.6 on the loneliness scale.”Too often people think that this problem is specific to older adults.”This report helps with the recognition that this can affect those at younger ages.”
In fact, some research published in 2017 at San Diego State University suggests that more screen time and social media may have caused a rise in depression and suicide among American adolescents. The study also found that people who spend less time looking at screens and more time having face-to-face social interactions are less likely to be depressive or suicidal.
However, the Cigna survey didn’t find a correlation between social media use and feelings of loneliness. This would on the surface contradict the new findings on screen time, but that previous research shows that how people use social media determine its influence on one’s sense of isolation.”If you’re passively using it, if you’re just scrolling feeds, that’s associated with more negative effects,
“But if you’re using it to reach out and connect to people to facilitate other kinds of interactions, it’s associated with more positive effects.”That last finding is also corroborated by the Cigna survey across all age groups. Respondents have more in-person social interactions on a daily basis reported being less lonely. The survey also found that working too little or too much is also associated with the experience of loneliness, suggesting that our workplaces are an important source of our social relationships and also that work-life balance is important for avoiding loneliness..
Social connection or the lack of it is now considered a social determinant of health. In a 2014 report, the Institute of Medicine suggested that health providers should collect information about patients’ “social connections and social isolation” along with information on education, employment, lifestyle like diet, exercise, smoking, etc. and psychological health.

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