The Surprising Effects of Loneliness on Health

Scientists are gaining a more refined understanding of the effects of loneliness and isolation on health. They are also looking into factors such as who is likely to be most seriously affected, and what kinds of interventions may reduce the associated risks. There are some surprising findings. First, though equivalent in risk, loneliness and social isolation don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy B. Smith, psychologist-researchers at Brigham Young University, have pointed out. “Social isolation denotes few social connections or interactions, whereas loneliness involves the subjective perception of isolation — the discrepancy between one’s desired and actual level of social connection,” they wrote in the journal Heart last year.

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