Being lonely and socially isolated is potentially very dangerous as studies suggest. So, if you are lonely then it is a time that you take some remedial measures.
According to a research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, people who live a lonely life, and/or are socially isolated are much more likely to die early, even than obese people.
The researchers conducted two meta-analyses which involved 3,00,000 participants and found that greater social connection is associated with a 50 percent reduced risk of early death.
Another study which covered more than 3.4 million individuals from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia found that social isolation, loneliness, or living alone played a major part in the premature death.
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, from Brigham Young University, who conducted the study, said being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need which is essential to both well-being and survival.
Holt-Lunstad added that an increasing portion of the U.S. population is now experiencing isolation on a frequent basis.
As per the findings, approximately 42.6 million adults over age 45 in the United States are estimated to be suffering from chronic loneliness.
In addition, the most recent U.S. Census data shows more than a quarter of the population lives alone, more than half of the population is unmarried and since the previous census, marriage rates and the number of children per household have declined.
These trends suggest that Americans are becoming less socially connected and experiencing more loneliness, said the researchers.
"There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase the risk of premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators," said Holt-Lunstad.
Extreme examples, such as infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die. Historically, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment which is prevalent up till now.
The researchers have recommended that greater priority be placed on research and resources to tackle this public health threat from the societal to the individual level.
Greater emphasis could be placed on social skills training for children in schools and doctors should be encouraged to include social connectedness in medical screening.