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Loneliness is an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. Loneliness is also described as a psychological mechanism which motivates individuals to seek social connections. It is often associated with an unwanted lack of connection and intimacy. Loneliness overlaps and yet is distinct from solitude. Solitude is simply the state of being apart from others; not everyone who experiences solitude feels lonely. As a subjective emotion, loneliness can be felt even when a person is surrounded by other people.

One in three people in America is affected by loneliness, and one in 12 is affected severely. The effects of loneliness can't really be tied to physical characteristics of lonely people. Rather, they are due to the effects of loneliness on everyday people.

Loneliness is a universal condition that makes a person irritable, self-centered, depressed and is associated with a 26 percent increase in the odds of premature mortality. According to the evolutionary model of loneliness, loneliness causes more than just mental health and behavioral dysfunction.  There is a significant association between loneliness and various health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diminished sleep salubrity , increased inflammation, and decreased viral immunity, even after controlling for various other factors.

How to mitigate Loneliness:

Start a conversation. 

Call, chat, or message friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Use social media and virtual technology to connect and interact with others

Try volunteering to provide support in your community, such as Big Brother, Big Sister (BBBS), Senior centers and the like.

Practice self-compassion and self-care. Read, listen to music, exercise, or learn a new skill. 

Seek Professional if your loneliness becomes overwhelming or feels unmanageable.

Paddy Kalish OD, JD and B.Arch

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