While it may be a sad state of affairs, being lonely was never really considered to be anything other than a fleeting few moments of sadness over the distance of loved ones, or maybe homesickness while travelling, or immediately following a move. However, recent information is showing that it could be a lot more of an issue than originally thought. Research is now showing that this seemingly tame feeling of loneliness can, in fact, spread like a contagious disease.
The reasoning for this is interesting and might sound familiar to you once you hear it. People who suffer from the common mental health disruption of loneliness tend to share and talk about their loneliness. What then happens is these feelings (which often include certain levels of depression and isolation) will rub off on those around them. This leads experts to believe that due to association loneliness can actually be “caught” so to speak.
The report which appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology contained research from experts who followed 5,214 participants of the Framingham Heart Study from the years of 1971-2001.
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Researchers say the information was interesting, as what they noticed was a definitive pattern whereas people appear to slowly isolate and become lonely, which makes them lose ties with the people around them. People who are identified as “loners” appear to have less of a social circle to begin with, then their loneliness appears to lend itself to their overall mental health which means that they start to lose the social connections of friends and family that are left much more quickly.
Some other interesting mental health, isolation and depression information that was realized during the study.
-The average amount of lonely days spent per year are a whopping 48 (more than a month a half)
-People who are lonely tend to withdraw even further from their social circle, making the issue much worse.
-For each extra companion that you secure the frequency of loneliness or other related feelings of depression goes down by about 2 days a year.
-Those who have lonely friends, or friends suffering from depression are much more likely to become lonely themselves.
-People feel more lonely when they have few friends as opposed to few family members.
-Women feel the mental health impacts of loneliness more often than men.
-The affliction of loneliness feeds on itself, social groups tend to isolate friends and peers they consider lonely. This pushes them to the fringe as making the problem considerably worse on the individuals mental health.