• Scripps Health

Can Loneliness Lead to Chronic Health Issues?

5 tips to combat loneliness and social isolation and boost health

For almost a full year, fear of the COVID-19 virus kept many people around the world confined to their homes, only interacting with colleagues, friends and relatives by phone or video. While the lockdown may have been necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, it contributed to the rise of two other significant health conditions: social isolation and loneliness.

These conditions are not the same, though they may be related. Social isolation is a lack of social contact with others, while loneliness is feeling alone or disconnected with or without social contact. Social isolation can cause some people to feel lonely, but even people who socialize often can feel lonely if their relationships are not satisfying or fulfilling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that both are public health risks that affect a significant number of people in the United States, especially older adults. One report found that more than one-third of adults age 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of those age 65 and older are socially isolated. Older adults are more likely to live alone, and factors, such as retirement, hearing loss, decreased mobility and illness, can limit their interactions with others.

Emotional pain can cause physical illness