Loneliness is one of the most widespread problems in modern America, according to a new survey put out by the health insurer Cigna. Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, the company analyzed 20,000 adults across the country and found that 54 percent of respondents reported they often felt as if nobody knew them well. In addition, 56 percent reported that they felt as if the people around them were distant, and two in five reported that they lacked meaningful relationships.
The average loneliness score was 44, a figure that suggests most Americans are considered lonely. Though that figure may be surprising to some, it builds on past research that states many Americans feel socially isolated. That trend is concerning because loneliness does come with certain health problems, and its prevalence could lead to overarching medical issues.
In fact, loneliness has been linked with a higher chance of coronary heart disease and stroke. It can also influence genes, alter the immune system, and slow down recovery from breast cancer. There is even evidence that is it connected to premature mortality.
While loneliness affects all Americans, the recent survey revealed it is more prevalent among young people than older groups. Those born between the mid-1990’s and the early 2000’s had an overall loneliness score of 48.3, while millennials had a score of 45.3. In contrast, baby boomers scored 42.4 and people ages 72 and above had a score of 38.6.
Scientists are not sure why the problem is more common among younger generations. Though many assume it is connected to social media, the team found that not to be the case. However, subjects in the study who had more daily in-person interactions were less lonely than more isolated individuals.
The team hopes the new findings will help officials take steps to curb loneliness and bring the issue to light. They state that, if the problem can be dealt with, it would lead many people to live better lives.