The Loneliness Epidemic

Loneliness in Society

The optimists of the world believe that there will be many positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic. A couple such potential outcomes could be a societal recognition that loneliness is a public health concern, and a resulting effort to respond to that concern. Loneliness is often a primary cause or strong contributor to the epidemics of drug addiction, alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide. It also has negative physical effects, specifically with regard to heart disease and mental decline. In his study of the Blue Zones, several areas in the world with populations that enjoy the greatest longevity, author Dan Buettner found that a component shared by each Blue Zone was a strong sense of community.

Humans are social creatures. We find meaning within community, and we naturally want to share our lives with others. It is important to note that solitude and loneliness are two different concepts. Solitude simply means there is no one else around you. Loneliness speaks to how you feel about your human connection. Why is loneliness such a pervasive problem within our communities? As with all complex issues, the reasons are multiple.

Screen Time

Technology can help connect us – the popularity of Zoom for face-to-face video calls during this COVID-19 quarantine is a testament to that. But technology can also keep us in our houses and apartments, in front of screens, rather than experiencing in-person fellowship.  

Family Separation

Because it is so easy to travel in the modern age, more people move away from the communities in which they were raised, resulting in family separation.  American society does not promote generations of families living together like other cultures do. Often that leaves seniors to live alone with limited human contact, which results in devastating effects on their mental and physical health.

Watch the YouTube Video. CBS News reports on ways people are fighting loneliness for seniors in quarantine.

The Stigma of Loneliness

There is still a sense of shame in admitting loneliness. It can feel like an admission that you are unlikeable, or needy – perhaps an even worse sin in our rugged individual American culture. When there is shame in admitting loneliness, the lonely are less likely to reach out for help.  

A Surgeon General’s Warning

The former Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy, recently wrote a book on the detrimental effects of loneliness. In his research for Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, Dr. Murthy found that loneliness spans all age groups, affecting not just senior citizens, but school-age children and everyone in between. His book makes it clear that we must create a more connected world.

Ways to Combat Loneliness

  • Foster Connections. Make time regularly to be fully present with the people who are important in our lives, including those that do not live within your household. Reach out to seniors that live alone. Schedule family dinners that are enjoyed free from technology. Have conversations with friends with the phone stored away.  
  • Be of Service. It is often repeated that if you find yourself in a funk, one way to turn it around is to help someone else. Service to others is a powerful tool in the fight against loneliness. Volunteering within the community or even making a point to help a work colleague are ways to build connections with others. Being of service also reminds us that we have value within a community.

Remember This Feeling

For the less naturally empathetic, it is easiest to relate to another’s condition when one has experienced it first hand. With the COVID-19 situation, we are all currently experiencing the isolating effects of self-quarantine. After we reach the other side, let us remember that for some, the condition of loneliness has no endpoint. With newfound empathy, let us continue to reach out to others in an effort to ease the pain of disconnection.

Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton personal injury attorney. Careless driving can cause accidents. If a reckless driver caused injuries to you or a loved one, I can help you recover monetarily for the injuries. Reach out to my firm for free & friendly advice. Stockton area residents can call (209) 227-1931, or call from any area toll-free at (800) 404-5400.

Take a moment to read what prior clients think of our services:

I am proud to belong to the Million Dollar Advocates and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. A sampling of our successful case outcomes is listed here: Verdicts and Settlements.

Photograph Attribution: Truthseeker08 on Pixabay

:mm llo [cs 768]


Contact Information