Unwanted loneliness negatively affects people’s health, both physical and mental, and, therefore, their quality of life. In Spain alone, it is estimated that 13.4% of individuals suffer from it, affecting women (14.8%) more than men (12.1%), according to the SoledadES Observatory. In addition, people with unwanted loneliness have been in this situation for about 6 years and 22.9% feel alone all day. In the EU, it is estimated that around 30 million citizens often feel lonely. However, 80% of people believe that loneliness is an invisible problem.
Against this background, it is worth highlighting recent research published in the journal BMC Medicine about social relationships and their relationship with mortality (Social connection and mortality in the UK Biobank: a prospective cohort analysis), which provides and a little light after analyzing the qualitative and quantitative aspects of loneliness: how often they can rely on someone close; how often they feel alone; how often they see family and friends; if they participate in activities with other people and if they live alone.
And it has been known for a long time that loneliness affects the quality of life. In fact, the largest happiness study to date, conducted at Harvard University, concluded that social relationships are essential to a good state of mind.
Now, this new research goes a step further and reveals that people who don’t socialize with others have a greater risk of premature mortality due to the lack of occasional social contact combined with feelings. of human isolation and freedom. activities.
Research suggests that having a low level of objective social connection (such as not seeing friends and family often) or subjective feelings of a lack of social connection (such as feeling that you cannot trust someone someone you are close to or feel lonely all the time), increases the risk of dying prematurely.
“Our study looked at several dimensions of social connectedness and found that their combination may affect the risk of premature death more than previously thought,” explained Hamish Foster, from the University of Glasgow and a by the authors of this study. “This means that, when addressing issues such as loneliness and social isolation, we need to examine these different dimensions together and together if we want to identify and support the most isolated in society.”
Research has found that people who live alone and lack other indicators of social connectedness (such as infrequent contact with friends and family or infrequent participation in group activities) may be more high risk of death.
The study was conducted for almost 13 years with 458,146 people. Of this, 7.2% of the participants died. At this time, researchers found that if the frequency of visits from friends and family was at least monthly, there was a lower risk of mortality. But it increased to 39% more than those who live alone and do not receive visitors even once a month. Regarding socializing through group activities, researchers did not find good results when they did not have their loved ones nearby.
In addition, the study suggests that the effects of some extreme signs of social disconnection (such as people living alone and not seeing their friends and family) can be strong enough to mask those benefit of having some positive social connections (such as participating in regular group activities).