Loneliness and Social Isolation

August 3, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 28
Do they pose a growing health epidemic?
By Christina L. Lyons


Emily Wilson, a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (Cover: AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press/Erin O. Smith)
Emily Wilson, a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, walks among backpacks that exhibit stories of suicide victims on March 22, 2018. The traveling display, part of the Send Silence Packing tour, is designed to raise awareness about suicide. Studies associate loneliness and isolation with increased risk of serious health problems and suicide. (Cover: AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press/Erin O. Smith)

Loneliness afflicts millions of Americans of all ages, and some experts think the problem is getting worse, driven by an aging population, changes in family structure, reliance on technology in place of face-to-face discourse and other forces. Medical studies have associated loneliness with costly physical and psychological ills, and social scientists say it can erode community cohesion and even undermine the nation's commitment to shared values and democratic ideals. Countries such as Japan, China and South Korea report similar problems, and in January British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed the world's first “minister of loneliness” to address the issue there. Some researchers contend that Americans are no lonelier than in past generations, and they say technology can bring people closer together as well as drive them apart. But others argue that psychologists, social workers, medical practitioners and policymakers should treat loneliness and isolation with the same urgency as drug abuse or other major social ills.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aug. 03, 2018  Loneliness and Social Isolation
Feb. 12, 2010  Sleep Deprivation
Dec. 06, 2002  Homework Debate
Aug. 04, 1995  Job Stress
Jun. 23, 1995  Repetitive Stress Injuries
Aug. 14, 1992  Work, Family and Stress
Aug. 13, 1982  Pressures on Youth
Nov. 28, 1980  Stress Management
Jul. 15, 1970  Stress In Modern Life
Aging Issues
Elderly Health Issues
Employee Benefits
General International Relations
Internet and Social Media
Marriage and Divorce
Medicaid and Medicare
Medicaid and Medicare
Mental Health
Nursing Homes and Long Term Care Facilities