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The Physical Impact of Loneliness

"People who are lonely are sicker and die faster from their diseases."


Gabor Mate



I was inspired to explore the physical impact of loneliness after listening to a podcast by addiction and trauma specialist, Dr. Gabor Mate.


I was shocked to hear that loneliness has the same negative impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!!! This prompted further research which uncovered the information below.


Some of the common physical effects of loneliness include:


1. Weakened immune system: Prolonged feelings of loneliness can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and infections. 

2. Increased stress: Loneliness can contribute to chronic stress, which can negatively impact overall health. Increased stress levels can lead to a variety of physical health issues, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, and an increased risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes.


3. Sleep disturbances: Loneliness can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep. Sleep disturbances can further contribute to a decline in overall physical well-being.


4. Reduced physical activity: Loneliness often leads to a lack of motivation and decreased participation in physical activities. This sedentary lifestyle can result in decreased muscle strength, decreased cardiovascular fitness, and an increased risk of obesity.

5. Poorer self-care: Loneliness can result in a lack of motivation to take care of oneself properly. This can lead to neglecting personal hygiene, inadequate nutrition, and a decline in overall physical health.

6. Increased inflammation: Chronic loneliness has been linked to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation is associated with various health issues, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and auto-immune disorders.

7. Slower healing: Studies have shown that loneliness can negatively impact wound healing. Loneliness can delay the healing process and increase the risk of complications.

The above is generalised information, it is important to note that the physical impacts of loneliness can vary from person to person. Furthermore, loneliness is often interconnected with mental and emotional well-being, and addressing the underlying causes of loneliness is vital for overall health and well-being.


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