The presence of a spouse provides immediate stress protection, BYU study finds.
Half of Americans say they are lonely and the average person reports having only one close friend. Loneliness can also make us sick, contributing to heart disease, depression, suicide and cognitive decline. Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, explains the science behind why social connectedness is so essential for our health.
Social isolation now influences a significant portion of the U.S. adult population and there is evidence the prevalence rates are increasing, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, testified before the U.S. Senate Aging Committee last year. "We are facing a loneliness epidemic," she noted.
Social isolation is more lethal than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or than obesity, according to research published by Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University. Since obesity is associated in the United States with 300,000 to 600,000 deaths a year, the implication is that loneliness is a huge, if silent, killer.