MAR 23, 2016 10:45 AM PDT

How to Fight Loneliness and Boost Your Health

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

What's just as bad as obesity, smoking, and hypertension? Surprisingly, it's the common feeling of loneliness. Psychologists and therapists have long known about the links between loneliness and increased risks for anxiety, depression, suicide, and antisocial behaviors. However, loneliness can actually influence other health problems, such as immune responses and risks for other diseases.

In studying the effects of loneliness, researchers found that the foreboding absence of social connections increases the risks of early deaths by 45 percent and ups the risks for dementia by 64 percent. On the contrary, people who report a support network of friends are healthier, benefiting from shorter recovery time and less illnesses.

Importantly, loneliness and happiness are not determined by the numbers of social connections. This means making friends for the sake of numbers is not a sustainable long-term solution; rather, making subjective connections to other people is a more worthwhile antidote to loneliness. Watch the video to learn how you can enhance and generate that positive sense of social connection!
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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