Loneliness affects your emotions and how you feel. But now, we also know that loneliness has a negative impact on physical health, and can increase the risk for heart disease, cancer and neurogenerative disorders. But how does loneliness impact physical health? Recent studies have some answers as to why loneliness is a health hazard.
Researchers defined loneliness as “a longing for greater social interaction.” Therefore, loneliness isn’t about how many friends you have, or whether you spend time alone or with other people. Loneliness is about not being satisfied with the social interaction in your life.
At this point, researchers identify two explanations for why loneliness is so harmful to the human body. One reason is that “loneliness is a source of stress” which in turn can lead to negative health conditions.
However, others believe that loneliness is so detrimental because it is threatening to our well-being. Just as people need food and shelter to survive, they also need meaningful human connection.
Without this essential interaction, researchers believe loneliness can compromise the immune system. Dr. Steve Cole, a genomics researcher and his team, found that people with loneliness had immune systems that produced more inflammation.
Inflammation in turn, is an underlying factor in serious health problems, including cancer and heart disease, along with Alzheimers and digestive disorders.
Some suggest that you can reduce chronic inflammation via pharmaceuticals but that might not be the best way to solve this problem. Instead, addressing loneliness itself can help people reduce inflammation and the illnesses associated with it.
After all, loneliness serves as a warning sign to create social connection – something that’s crucial for health and wellness.