Live Better

The physical effects of loneliness

Could loneliness be making you sick? We look at new research.

According to new Medibank research, the majority of Aussies1 have experienced loneliness at some point in their lives, with 1 in 10 saying they experience this feeling “all the time”2.

But what could this mean for our health? Studies are increasingly revealing the impact loneliness can have on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing — with recent research finding loneliness can reduce a person’s quality of life, be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and twice as bad for the elderly as obesity.

So, what are some of the physical effects loneliness can have on our health?

Increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke

Researchers in the UK recently analysed 23 existing studies and found those who experienced loneliness and social isolation were 29% more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease and 32% more likely to have a stroke — both of which are the leading causes of death and disability in high-income countries. While the studies do not suggest loneliness and social isolation directly cause these health conditions, it does raise questions around the connection between the two.

1 68% of Australians
2 10% of Australians

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