Less loneliness leads to a longer life

Over the past century, our life expectancy has grown enormous but our mental well-being struggles. How is this reduction in mental health accounted for by the subjective environmental circumstances? Research conducted by Bodner & Bergman (2016) tried to identify the consequences of loneliness on your health. 

According to them, people living in loneliness have a higher risk of developing depressive symptoms. Especially old people are affected by this. Those symptoms in turn lead to people estimating for themself a lower life expectancy (SLE). This estimation is true when looking at data. The highest suicidal group is represented by 65+ years old. Contrary to the researcher’s expectations, people with high SLE are more likely to suffer severe symptoms of depression when they score high in loneliness. People scoring low on SLE are less likely to expect that severity in depressive symptoms. This can be explained by the age-related decline of physical and psychological skills while still estimating a long life.  

Therefore, loneliness has a moderating effect on longevity and, if not taken care of, can lead to the development of depressive symptoms, an earlier death and a decline in the subjective live expectancy. It is important to spread the message around so that people become aware of how important social interactions at higher ages are. Especially in the current Covid-19 situation where old people face difficulties in connecting with people. 

Bodner, E., & Bergman, Y. S. (2016, Mar 30). Loneliness and depressive symptoms among older adults: The moderating role of subjective life expectancy. Psychiatry Res, 237, 78-82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2016.01.074 

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