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Thread: Why a 'Loneliness Epidemic' is Upon Us

  1. #1

    Default Why a 'Loneliness Epidemic' is Upon Us

    Why a 'Loneliness Epidemic' is Upon Us

    “Our crowded, lengthy commutes are making us more lonely than ever”. “Eating alone is BAD for your health - especially if you're a man, study shows”. “Japan’s solution to loneliness: virtual wives.” “Loneliness: a silent plague that is hurting young people most”.

    There is no lack of interest in the topic of loneliness, as these headlines indicate. But there’s less agreement amongst researchers about what can be done about it.

    "Loneliness is a major social, educational, economic and health issue that will reach epidemic proportions by 2030," says Prof Stephen Houghton, of the University of Western Australia. "At the moment there are no interventions. Where are they? I can't find any."

    According to a feature in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), loneliness – “defined as a distressing discrepancy between desired and actual levels of social contact” -- appears to be a serious health risk for issues like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease, stroke, and insomnia. One study claims that the health impact of loneliness is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

    It is believed, however, that the incidence of loneliness among the elderly has remained constant over the last 50 years at about 10 percent. But with the greying of the population, they make up an increasing proportion of the population.

    “One of the issues that we need to pay attention to is that loneliness and social isolation are different,” says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. “Lonely people are not necessarily isolated, and isolated people are not necessarily lonely. But while they might be different, they carry similar health risks, she said, adding that she is concerned that “there may be a perception that as long as you don’t feel lonely, you’re fine.”

    Nearly all the research indicates that loneliness can be devastating. “You can be absolutely certain that loneliness messes up your quality of life,” Christina Victor, of Brunel University London, told JAMA. “It’s an unpleasant experience. It compromises well-being.”

    And not only quality of life, but the health system. In the UK Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has warned that loneliness threatens to overwhelm the government health system.

    "Social isolation and loneliness are akin to a chronic long-term condition in terms of the impact they have on our patients' health and wellbeing. GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems like diabetes, hypertension and depression, but often their main problem isn't medical, they're lonely... If nothing is done, loneliness will, inevitably, take its toll on the entire healthcare system."

    Unfortunately, intuitive solutions, like creating an army of “befrienders” to visit lonely people, don’t necessarily work. Studies have shown that this may help, but the results are not statistically significant.

    Around Christmas time, campaigns to befriend some of the army of lonely people (usually the elderly) spring up. It’s a generous gesture – but how much good will it actually do in the end?

    Remarkably, most of the academic studies and media surveys ignore the fundamental question: what kind of society creates a vulnerability to loneliness? The answer seems obvious: a society where families are small and fractured. When the elderly have several children to support them and do not bear the burden of shattered relationships, loneliness will surely be less of a problem.

    But admitting this runs against the grain. Politicians and policy-makers would have to admit that allowing divorce and encouraging small families has been a colossal mistake. Even so, it might be easier than buying anti-depressants for a growing proportion of the population.

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  3. #2


    One study claims that the health impact of loneliness is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
    Simple. Tax it.
    The proceeds could be used to fund LBGQT stuff.
    All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State.
    -Albert Camus

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  5. #4
    Supporting Member
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    Loneliness is caused by people being annoying bitches and results gathering with others in pussy hats just to feel like they are a part of something.
    Citizen of Arizona

    I am a libertarian. I am advocating everyone enjoy maximum freedom on both personal and economic issues as long as they do not bring violence unto others.

  6. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by Cleaner44 View Post
    Loneliness is caused by people being annoying bitches and results gathering with others in pussy hats just to feel like they are a part of something.
    Ban all the pussy hats!
    "The Patriarch"

  7. #6


    I'm too damn busy to get lonely.
    "The Patriarch"

  8. #7


    Wow.. a lonely study done without a mention of social media as a crutch.. somebody dropped the ball
    Disclaimer: any post made after midnight and before 8AM is made before the coffee dip stick has come up to optomim level - expect some level of silliness,

    The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are out numbered by those who vote for a living !!!!!!!

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  10. #9


    The cure has always been with us:

    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  11. #10

    Default Why the UK Just Appointed a Minister of Loneliness

    January 18, 2018

    There's a new minister in the United Kingdom, and the position's theme song might as well be The Beatles' hit song "Eleanor Rigby," which implores the public to "look at all the lonely people."

    More than 9 million people in the United Kingdom report that they often or always feel lonely, according to a December 2017 report from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. This report prompted U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to appoint politician Tracey Crouch as the new minister of loneliness yesterday (Jan. 17), according to The New York Times.

    In doing so, the government is acknowledging years of research showing that loneliness can be detrimental to people's health. [9 DIY Ways to Improve Your Mental Health]

    For instance, feeling lonely may increase a person's chances of getting sick, a 2015 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found. That's because chronic loneliness may trigger cellular changes that reduce a person's ability to fight viral infections, Live Science previously reported.

    And if you're already sick with a cold, loneliness may make it worse, a 2017 study found. Feeling isolated can also have grave consequences: Loneliness was linked to a 26 percent increased likelihood of dying earlier, compared with people who weren't lonely, according to a 2015 meta-analysis in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

    Lonely people can also overload the health care system. Some people who feel lonely head to the hospital during the holidays, even when they are healthy, a 2010 essay in the journal The Lancet said.

    "For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life," May said in a statement, according to The New York Times. "I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with."

    Last year's report on loneliness was commissioned by the Red Cross and the Co-op, a cooperative supermarket chain. It was published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which honors the Labour Party politician who was killed by a right-wing extremist in 2016, according to The New York Times. Before her death, Cox set up a commission that would help the country assess and address loneliness in the United Kingdom, The New York Times reported.

    In the United States, the number for the suicide hotline is (800) 273-8255.

    The minister of loneliness isn't the only position affiliated with a feeling. In the past few years, several countries, including the United Arab Emirates and India, have appointed a minister of happiness, according to news reports.
    Truth is a social construct.

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