LONELINESS IS WIDESPREAD IN THE U.S.

Loneliness is Widespread in the U.S.

by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

A study revealed that “…. most American adults are considered lonely.”  This study was completed by the health care company CIGNA, in partnership with a research firm in marketing, Ipsos (http://bit.ly/KenPopeStudyOfLoneliness).  Loneliness was measured by a questionnaire developed to evaluate individuals’ feelings of loneliness and social isolation (the UCLA Loneliness Scale).

A very large sample of more than 20,000 adults, 18 years old or older revealed:

  • 46% of Americans report “sometimes or always feeling alone; 47% feel “left out”.
  • 27% of Americans “rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them”.
  • 43% “sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful”, or that they are “isolated from others” (also 43%).
  • 20% “rarely or never feel close to people”.
  • Only 53% “have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis”, such as an “extended conversation with a friend”, or “quality time with family”.

Of real concern, and perhaps surprising, younger adults (Generation Z, 18-22 years old) is the “loneliest generation”.  They report being in less good health as well.

Somewhat surprisingly, a lot of social media participation does not elevate a person’s loneliness score much at all.  Loneliness seems to be independent of someone’s use of social media.

As the president and CEO of Cigna, David M. Cordani, described: “We view a person’s physical, mental, and social health as being entirely connected.”  “We are seeing a lack of human connection, which ultimately leads to a lack of vitality – or a disconnect between mind and body.  We must change this trend by reframing the conversation to be about ‘mental wellness” and ‘vitality’ to speak to our mental-physical connection. When the mind and body are treated as one, we see powerful results.”

The study concludes:  “People who are less lonely are more likely to have regular, meaningful, in-person interactions; are in good overall physical health and mental health; have achieved balance in daily activities; and are employed and have good relationships with their coworkers.”

Psychotherapy can often be of help for someone who is lonely in their life.  An individualized series of sessions can help someone identify how they are inadvertently contributing to their isolation.  Helping someone develop greater meaningful connections with others often significantly reduces depression, anxiety, and family struggles that bring people to therapy.

 

Dr. Alan M. Solomon is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA.  A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310  539-1772 or dralanms@gmail.com

Copyright 2018 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.